Kent State at Stark’s First Year Experience (FYE) Prepares Students for Success

Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank among volunteer opportunities for freshmen

Evangeline Agum knows the face of hunger. In her home county of Uganda, Ms. Agum says “people need food the most” yet help is scarce. That’s why the 18-year-old didn’t hesitate when afforded the opportunity to volunteer at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank as part of First-Year Experience (FYE).

Ms. Agum was one of 13 incoming Kent State University at Stark freshmen who participated in the fifth FYE Summer Service Project. Over the summer, students served the community at Stark Parks, the Campus Kitchens Project at the Kent Campus and at Habitat for Humanity Restore in Canton.

“Our summer service projects are a way to engage with the community,” says Kristi Yerian, assistant director for First-Year Experience. “FYE is one of the best ways for freshmen to meet new people, develop leadership skills and jump-start their involvement at Kent State Stark.”

The summer service projects are an excellent kickoff to fall semester, Ms. Yerian adds.

“Your first year of college should be an enjoyable experience, filled with plenty of opportunities to get involved and meet new people,” she says. “Attending college for the first time is a big step for everyone, and we want our freshmen to feel at home here at Kent State Stark.”

Throughout the FYE program, freshmen are tasked with participating in various community service projects, workshops and a one-credit-hour course, Destination Kent State FYE, as part of their first-year curriculum.

According to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), student engagement positively correlates with retention and success rates. Among Kent State Stark seniors surveyed in 2017, more than half – 62 percent – took part in service learning projects, a higher participation rate than the 2016 and 2017 NSSE average results from colleges across the country.

For Anthony Clement, a freshman majoring in English, participating in the FYE Summer Service Project at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank meant meeting new friends but also giving back.

“It means a lot to help the community,” he says. “Taking time out of my day to support this worthy cause is definitely something I would do again.”

Kent State Stark and the foodbank have developed a strong partnership since the formation of Flash’s Food Pantry in 2015. The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank helps supply the on-campus pantry with food.  

“We certainly appreciate our relationship with Kent State Stark,” says Tasha Ledrich, volunteer leader at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. “Students are able to recognize how their direct touch can help others, and volunteering at the foodbank is a very dignified way to help the community.”

Ms. Agum said she would continue to volunteer at the Akron facility during her time at Kent State Stark. One day, she hopes to start a successful foodbank operation in Uganda, armed with a finance degree from Kent State.

UPDATED: Friday, March 01, 2024 11:38 AM
Melissa Griffy Seeton