Class Honored with New University-wide Award for Outstanding Service to Community

Students Learn How Even Small Groups, Teams Can Make Significant Impact

A class of communication studies students earned top prize in the Outstanding New Service Initiative category at the Kent State University’s Office of Experimental Education and Civic Engagement (OEECE) annual awards program.

Students enrolled in “Communication as Community: Communication in Small Groups and Teams,” taught by part-time School of Communication Studies faculty member Molly Taggart, earned the award at the OEECE’s Celebration of Service event in April.

According to OEECE, the Outstanding New Service Initiative award is given to groups or individuals whose projects “exhibited depth of understanding of the community needs or social issues, made a distinct impact on the community/community issue/population being served and demonstrated growth over time and sustainable opportunities for others in the community to get involved.”

“The communication course successfully created six community-based projects with different regional partners,” said Amanda Paulus, M.A.Ed., director of OEECE. “Thirty dedicated students held various roles at these nonprofit organizations to learn about theory and research related to communication in small groups and teams.”

Projects for the course led students to create donation and awareness campaigns for organizations like the International Institute of Akron, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Miller House, McGuffrey House, March of Dimes and Access, Inc.

The class had multiple projects occurring simultaneously in the community as a result of the ideas generated from this course.

"(My group) chose the International Institute of Akron (IIA), a refugee resettlement organization in Akron, for our nonprofit group,” said junior Hannah Holliday. “Working with the International Institute was a different experience for us because of the recent immigration ban. We focused on raising awareness for the International Institute and for the executive order and how it affects Akron and the country as a whole.”

The goal for each of the partnerships built was to help each nonprofit organization raise funding for their cause, create a social media campaign to bring awareness to the central social justice issues of that organization, and have each group member dedicate 10 or more hours for each nonprofit organization they were working with.

“I was able to learn extremely valuable information from International Institute about the benefits of immigrants and refugees, beyond sharing culture and diversity, such as their outstanding economic impact,” Holliday said. “This information, when used well, is just as powerful as volunteer work and donations, if not more. Having a chance to be informed and to speak up for the voiceless, in Akron and in other countries, was an amazing opportunity and honor.”

Specific projects included fundraising events at local restaurants, compiling Easter baskets and various toiletry items to donate to organizations, organizing food pantries, spending time with residents and clients of the nonprofits, and assisting with the Tri Sigma Night Live which raised $22,918 for March of Dimes.

For more information about OEECE and the Celebration of Service awards, visit

POSTED: Friday, May 19, 2017 - 11:11am
UPDATED: Friday, May 19, 2017 - 11:17am
Meghan Caprez and Jennifer Kramer, APR