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EFSC Students Honored for Community Service
May 9, 2017 - The Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 9 at the King Center for the Performing Arts on the Melbourne campus, honoring community partners, faculty and students who logged volunteer hours during the 2016-17 academic year.
The philosophy behind the Service-Learning Program at Eastern Florida State College is that what students learn outside the classroom can be just as important as what they learn inside. To this end, the program provides students with the chance to get involved in the community and help address real-world problems.
The volunteers were praised by Dr. Phil Simpson, Provost of the Titusville campus and eLearning, who said the students “looked outside themselves to learn more about themselves.”
“Service-Learning is a unique opportunity for students to understand the needs of the community in a hands-on way and take those lessons with them for the rest of their lives,” said Simpson, who also oversees the Service-Learning program. “They will be better individuals and citizens as a result.”
About 3,200 students participated in the program during the 2016-17 academic year, contributing 163,000 hours of community service. Some 26 students were named prestigious Citizen Scholars, maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA, volunteering 300 or more hours, taking several Service-Learning courses and writing extensively about their experiences.
"People think about volunteering, and they often think about the hours," said Citizen Scholar Ryan Beal. "That's not really important. It’s more about what you get out of it, how you reflect and what you learn from other people. Your actions don't only affect yourself, but also the people you surround yourself with."
"I think the real beauty of the Citizen Scholar program is that it recognizes those who go inside of communities and really want to make a difference — those who do more than just the 20 hours required for some classes," said Palm Bay SGA President and Citizen Scholar Juvens Jean-Noel.
“This program has opened my eyes to how to help my community,” added Citizen Scholar Matthew Young.
Other noteworthy achievements included John Szurka, who received the Outstanding Student Humanitarian Scholarship Award, and Susan Slaton, who received both the On-Campus Community Service Service-Learning Scholarship Award and the 2017 Florida Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows Award.
The Newman Civic Fellows Award is given to students for what the Compact calls their ability to inspire and mobilize others and tackle the root causes of social issues in their communities.
The Compact is a coalition of 1,110 colleges and universities that name about 200 students from across the U.S. annually as Newman Civic Fellows.
In September, Associate Professor Susan Phillips also received the 2016 Community Engagement Educator Award from the Florida Campus Compact.
Phillips teaches Biology on the College’s Palm Bay campus and is an Eastern Florida leader in Service-Learning. She has been recognized for a range of work that includes infusing community involvement in her classes and starting innovative community-based programs for students.
Eastern Florida has one of the top Service-Learning programs in the nation, having been named to the White House’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for nine consecutive years.
EFSC's program has 350 partner organizations and agencies in Brevard County, with 145 Eastern Florida faculty incorporating Service-Learning projects in their classrooms.
In all, more than 83,000 students have contributed 3 million hours of community service since the program began in 1988.
For more information, visit the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement online at easternflorida.edu/go/volunteer