Community Engagement: Learning By Doing

Big things grow from small beginnings. Last week, thirteen Middle Georgia State students gave up three days of their Spring Break to help the less fortunate in Georgia.

Our students partnered with three community organizations—Union Mission, the Salvation Army, and America’s Second Harvest. They cleared out a space for a garden to be planted, served food, washed dishes, and packed food in boxes for delivery to those in need.

I had the opportunity to spend one evening and morning with these motivated students. Their spirit was infectious and I share their desire to see this effort grow in the fall and again next spring. Sharing their experience brought to mind the words of Mother Theresa, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

As president, the idea of servant leadership is what our “find your greatness” theme is about. Greatness is as much about each of us consistently showing up ready to serve, as it is about the big goals set and met.

At Middle Georgia State, we understand that greatness extends beyond the classroom. In fact, as a public university, our commitment to the public good demands that we contribute to the fabric of society.

For some that may mean community service, for others it may mean undergraduate research on the issues and challenges of our day. For all of us, it means identifying our talents and using them to enhance not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us.

Earlier this month, when our accreditors from the SACS Commission on Colleges visited our campus, they characterized their visit as one of understanding not evaluation. Part of what they sought to understand was our own understanding of our identity and mission at this critical juncture in our history.

This year’s Alternative Spring Break and the many opportunities our students have to learn through community engagement are emblematic of our identity and mission. As we return to classes this week, I encourage us all to consider new ways we might engage with our community both on and off campus and I look forward to our growth in this area in the months and years to come!

MGA students volunteering during Alternative Spring Break in Savannah, GA.
MGA students volunteering during
Alternative Spring Break in Savannah, GA.