NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Niagara University has always maintained its pride in the Vincentian tradition, which includes serving the community and helping those less fortunate. But did you know that it can also help further your experience in your field of study?
The IMPACT office in Bisgrove Hall can help with just that. While they can’t stress enough the importance of NU students getting involved with the community, they can also help students gain more experience in their respective field of study through community service.
“Career prep through service, a lot of universities have that in place,” said Tom Lowe, director of IMPACT. “Our role, generally speaking, is connecting students to learning experiences in the community that may either confirm that that’s what they want to do, or they may decide it’s not what they’re passionate about after all.”
While most NU students have a certain amount of community service hours required, whether it’s for a class or club, the IMPACT office is working to move the focus away from the number of hours required, and have the focus be more on the fulfilling experience of being involved in the community.
“We just did a video series and it’s on our website,” said Lowe. “We had students create these videos. There’s a video that talks about measurable outcomes that talks about what students can gain from serving the community. We’re trying to change the culture.”
The annual report from the Levesque Institute of civic engagement shows that there is no shortage of community involvement from NU students. Over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year, the total economic value was $730,824, while the total number of IMPACT hours was 9,757.25. At the same time, 287 organizations were served and there were 811 unique service experiences in total.
However, the most notable success for IMPACT was “Rock the Block.” This event brought 30 partners from various organizations throughout Niagara County together as part of the South End Initiative, an effort to help refurbish old homes and bring the surrounding neighborhoods back to life. The event saw 204 volunteers, and according to the report: 35 homes were refurbished, 76 vacant lots were mowed, trash and debris was removed from 10 alleys, and 4 city corners were landscaped and perennials were planted.
In addition, there are opportunities for students to serve their community in a way that is connected to their major.
“Another approach is courses,” Lowe added. “If service is written into a course, the faculty oversees that while we’re the support. We have had accounting majors help prepare taxes for residents in low income areas. The total return was $750,000 over a year.”
Regardless of major, IMPACT will be able to help you grow your experience in your major, all while serving others and making a difference in the community.