Honors College expands service to community
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
Put it all together, and it created a tidal wave of positive change for not just the community, but the world.
Students from several different Honors organizations on campus traveled across the Valley this week to participate in the first Honors College Commitment to Service Week. The organizations — National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), Alpha Chi, Honors STEMists and Honors VOICES — all played crucial roles in bringing some of those service events to fruition.
Because NSCS and Alpha Chi are open to online students as well, they participated in by sharing photos of what they did in their hometowns.
“In addition to having in-person service opportunities, we also made sure we were inclusive of our online student population,” Honors College Program Manager Anya Cofrancesco said.
Service is a pillar of the Honors College, which in the past has held a day dedicated to service. Expanding volunteer opportunities across a week was nothing short of a hit.
“We wanted to integrate service much more heavily this semester,” Cofrancesco said. “So my team and I decided to make this a huge college campaign. It’s been incredible to see their (students’) compassion and willingness to roll up their sleeves and get into the community.”
Cofrancesco said Honors VOICES was particularly focused on the challenge. Over the summer, the Honors College staff had tasked the club with reaching out to set up service opportunities for the weeklong event, and its members did not disappoint.
“The reasoning and the thought process was that we have a lot of students, particularly in the Honors program, that really want to serve and want to get connected to the community but it’s hard for them to find opportunities, especially if they’re not from here originally,” said Honors VOICES President and junior sociology major Lena-May Haught. “We’ve had vast attendance. It’s been insane. We were not anticipating the sign-ups that we got, and we also were not anticipating the turnout that we got.
“We had the problem of honestly having more people than we had spots for, which is such a cool problem to have. Next year we’re going to have to make sure it’s bigger and better so that more of our Honors students, and even non-Honors students, can participate.”
Students could volunteer in a variety of ways, from helping care for the animals at the Arizona Humane Society to sorting medical supplies for Project C.U.R.E.
One organization that hosted multiple events was the Christian nonprofit Feed My Starving Children. On Tuesday and Wednesday, several groups of students volunteered to help pack food to be shipped to children in need around the world.
On Tuesday afternoon alone, volunteers containing GCU students successfully packed 81 boxes of food, which equates to 17,496 meals and feeding 47 children for a year.
According to Kelsea Frazier, Feed My Starving Children volunteer program supervisor and GCU 2019 alumna, volunteers like the ones from GCU create those make such impactful numbers.
“It would be impossible to feed the kids without volunteers coming in,” she said. “GCU students are always very respectful, helpful and eager to serve however they can. The students always bring in a good attitude, are excited to pack as much as they can and they bring a lot of energy, so it’s fun having GCU students here.”
It was equally impactful for the students.
Mikayla Anderson, a senior majoring in business management, had known about Feed My Starving Children for a while but had never volunteered with it. With the Honors College’s Commitment to Service Week laying out a clear, straightforward way for her to serve alongside some of her peers in the college, it was the perfect opportunity to become more acquainted with the organization.
“I know in previous classes we’ve done nonprofit projects and things like that, and Feed My Starving Children is one of the opportunities that I’ve done the research for,” she said. “Getting the opportunity to see what I researched in action was good.”
For freshman Mariah Green, a behavioral health sciences major who had volunteered for the organization before, it was about helping to make a difference with her fellow Lopes.
“It’s just really cool to be a part of something where service and serving other people is such a big emphasis within our community,” she said. “You get a feeling of doing good for others.”
Other organizations the students worked with during the week included CityServe, Habitat for Humanity, Amanda Hope and St. Mary’s Food Bank.
Nearly every service opportunity for Honors students was filled several days before Commitment to Service Week began, showing that in the Honors College, it’s not just about their brainpower. It’s also about the strength of their heart.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].