Student Service Leader Highlights Successful Experience
Coming to Kent State University as a transfer student from a local community college in her hometown of Toledo, Laurel Johnson, ’17, wanted to get involved and become an integrated member of the Kent State University community.
Drawn to Kent State by the communication studies program, Ms. Johnson wanted to further her education and earn a bachelor’s degree after receiving her associate degree. She transferred to Kent State in 2015 for her junior year.
During her time as a student, she felt the urge to become a more-involved member of the Kent State community. Having a past in volunteering and an interest in nonprofit work, Ms. Johnson became involved with Super Service Saturdays.
“I saw a flyer for this volunteer opportunity in the Student Center Hub and thought about volunteering because I wanted to go into nonprofit work,” Ms. Johnson says.
Super Service Saturdays is an opportunity for Kent State students to volunteer at various service sites and make a positive impact on the community. Students can volunteer individually or register with a group of people to participate.
Shortly after becoming involved with the service project, she was introduced to Amanda Woodyard through a class project. Ms. Woodyard serves as the director of Community Engaged Learning – formerly the Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement – within the Academic, Community and Career Engagement Center.
“We had an assignment where we had to interview somebody who had a job in the field we wanted to work in and talk to them about how they got to where they are in their career,” Ms. Johnson says. “Amanda was the coordinator at the time. I chose to interview her about what she does and her role at Community Engaged Learning.”
After a few Super Service Saturdays, Ms. Woodyard recognized Ms. Johnson’s leadership qualities and suggested she serve as a Student Service Leader during her senior year.
Ms. Johnson shadowed another Student Service Leader to assume that role the next year.
Through being a Student Service Leader, Ms. Johnson had the opportunity to work with various nonprofit organizations, and it has helped her to become a more outgoing, ambitious individual, she says. Ms. Johnson also says she felt pride in being a Student Service Leader as she represented Kent State when she led service projects with local organizations.
“My favorite thing about being a Student Service Leader was interacting with all the other student volunteers and hearing about where they come from, what they’re doing at Kent State, why they’re volunteering and hearing about their reflections on their experience,” Ms. Johnson says.
Ms. Johnson was also able to be involved with Kent State’s Columbus Program in State Issues in fall 2017. Through this special internship program, students are selected to live and study in Columbus while interning at either a nonprofit organization or a government agency.
During her time at the Columbus internship program, Ms. Johnson interned alongside State Sen. Edna Brown from Toledo’s District 11. Ms. Johnson conducted research on legislation being introduced in the Senate and bills that Sen. Brown was planning to introduce. Ms. Johnson says the experience was educational and very challenging for her.
Although Ms. Johnson’s experience at Kent State was unique transferring as a junior, she still feels she would have gotten involved even if she came to the university as a freshman. She says that she has seen many people volunteer through Community Engaged Learning.
“Being in a group of people who felt the same way about service … was nice,” she says. “It was great to be part of a group of people who are like-minded.”
Being an integrated member of Community Engaged Learning has been an essential part of Ms. Johnson’s experience as a transfer student at Kent State.
Although her time at the university was short-lived, Ms. Johnson enjoyed her experience as a student and credits her success as a Student Service Leader as a standout aspect of her college experience.
Community Engaged Learning will host a volunteer fair on Oct. 16 in the Kent Student Center. Community Engaged Learning is currently looking for local community partnerships to provide experiences for students.
There also will be a celebration highlighting the one-year anniversary of the Academic, Community and Career Engagement Center (ACCE) from Oct. 22-26 in the renovated space in Room 261, Schwartz Center. During a series of events, the work of Academic Engagement and Degree Completion, Community Engaged Learning and Career Exploration and Development will be showcased.
The new space located in Room 261 at the Schwartz Center provides a place to help students across campus discover their academic passion along with their purpose in life through programs, opportunities, strategies and tools to immerse themselves in academic success, social justice, civic engagement, cultural awareness and early career experiences.
For information, please visit www.kent.edu/community.