Community Leaders in the Making
Although Morgan State University doesn’t have service-learning courses, the Baltimore-based HBCU has an extensive community service program, which is coordinated through a central community service office. Most of the programs are targeted to public school students — elementary to high school. Student-volunteers coordinate the projects.
“The student-leaders are what make these programs thrive,” says Deanna Ikhinmwin, director of the office of community service at Morgan State. Morgan has 15 different programs, each headed by a number of student-coordinators. As director, Ikhinmwin is in touch with the community, recruits community youth children to participate in the programs, and recruits and trains the Morgan State students who are going to work with the children. Ikhinmwin also evaluates the program, writes grants and produces a newsletter for parents.
Most of the activities center around one-on-one activities with kids, such as tutoring and mentoring. Elementary school programs include tutoring children who are behind two or more grades in math and reading skills and working with the mental health department to tutor children being counseled for behavior problems. Other programs include a Big Sister, Little Sister program and the Campus Pals program, which matches up students in kindergarten through 9th grade with Morgan students who serve as guides on college campus visits.
Student-volunteers participate in orientation training programs to learn about volunteer sites, personnel practices and basic organizational strategies. The goal is for Morgan State students to relate their classroom learning to real life.
Ikhinmwin says they have not had many problems recruiting volunteers. She says the student-coordinators are the best recruiters. Student-tutors must go through a competitive application and interview process, and those selected, Ikhinmwin says, are proud to be chosen.
Student-volunteers also are involved in coordinating and performing short-term “community service projects” and getting the children being tutored and mentored involved in these projects. Past activities have ranged from highway cleanup projects to reading to senior citizens.
— By Phaedra Brotherton
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