Service Learning at GSU once again gains recognition

Grambling State University has once again been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The award was established in 2006, after thousands of college students traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.

This marks the fourth time in six years, that Grambling has received this national honor as a result of the university’s involvement in academic and community service service-learning.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll annually highlights colleges and universities and is administered by The Corporation for National and Community Service in collaboration with the U. S. Department of Education and the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as the American Council on Education and Campus Compact.

The award is conveyed to colleges and universities that achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve. 

Dr. Rory L. Bedford serves as director of service-learning at Grambling State University and is proud that the university has received this recognition again.

“Such distinction comes as a result of the support that service-learning has received from the administration, an outstanding faculty and a committed student body,” Bedford said.

In 2005, GSU became the first university in the University of Louisiana System to establish an Office of Service Learning. In 2008, only three years after establishing the office, the university incorporated service-learning as a part of the General Education requirements to assure that all students have a meaningful service-learning experience before they graduate.

As the university prepares students for “citizenship in a democratic society,” students must complete at least 160 hours of service-learning activities.

A minimum of 80 hours must be earned by doing academic service learning in a class-community setting. The other 80 hours can be achieved with approved civic engagement activities or community service projects. According to Bedford, the university’s faculty continues to adapt courses that fit the cycle of service-learning.  Students participate in projects to help meet the needs of the community.

Some of the projects include: students volunteering to assist the elderly with technology skills; student volunteers assisting with ACT preparation workshops; nursing students providing blood pressure and other screenings in rural areas; students from the School of Social Work and the School of Nursing participating in Operation Stand Down, a social service program providing assistance to the homeless and others through counseling and other services; Criminal Justice students mentoring students at the Swanson Juvenile Center; Theater students performing for underprivileged people in low-income areas to provide cultural enrichment; and students assisting communities after natural disasters.

“These activities represent a microcosm of projects that are ongoing at the university,” said Bedford.  “The Grambling State University family realizes the impact that ‘service’ has on our nation and the rewards to both the givers and receivers of the service.  Those who participate in service-learning activities experience the value that is added to the lives of those they help. No reward is greater than that.”

The university is always looking to expand the number of community partners and service opportunities for our students.  Agencies, organizations, businesses, schools, municipalities and faith groups interested in partnering with the university should contact Dr. Bedford at 318-274- 2547.