Three students are filling new student leadership roles with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CESL). These roles are part of a new initiative within the center, Student Leaders in Community Engagement, or SLiCE.
The SLiCE program was proposed by Paige Buschman, CESL graduate assistant for service projects, and was developed out of a desire to turn a single student worker position into a leadership and learning opportunity for additional Redbirds.
“Our original student worker position worked a lot with logistics, but the structure of the position did not allow for much training, and reflection and social justice were not getting the attention that they needed,” Buschman said. “We expanded the student worker position into the SLiCE program in order to allow for additional training, leadership growth, a social justice emphasis, and reflection opportunities. It also allows us to build these skills with multiple students each year.
“We want to develop great student leaders because we understand the value of peer influencing and the power that positive role models have in changing the behavior and attitudes of our student volunteers.”
Buschman manages the SLiCE program and works directly with the students. The three inaugural SLiCE program participants—Lindsey Brown, Maddi Kartcheske, and Mark Murdoch—have already assisted with CESL’s September Service Days program and will continue their work with other projects throughout the year such as Holiday Helper and Bring It Back to Normal.
Kartcheske, a senior majoring in English and creative writing, explained why she applied to be part of the program: “I applied to be a SLiCE participant because the opportunities through CESL have been some of the most impactful moments of my college career. From being a participant on Alternative Spring Break to taking classes within the related minor, being exposed to the framework of civic and community engagement has changed the way I view my field of study for the better.”
Murdoch, a junior studying actuarial science, also applied in part because of programs he participated in through CESL in the past.
“I am looking forward to facilitating the programs I participated in back in my first semester on campus. I hope I can encourage others to get more involved with CESL and expose students to all the options that the center has to offer. Programs through CESL are a great way to get exposure to what is going on in Bloomington-Normal and to see how you can help make a difference.”
Brown, a junior studying communication studies, applied because she is passionate about change.
“I wanted to become a SLiCE intern because I love service. I live by the words of Gandhi, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’ and I want to be the change through this position. I also pursued this position in hopes of influencing my peers to grow in their service, and become passionate about their ability to make real change.”
Through their work and reflection, SLiCE participants will learn about and enhance their skills in the areas of communication, cultural competency, professionalism, event planning, peer education, collaboration, leadership, and many others. They will learn how to articulate what their strengths and natural skills are and utilize those to promote success in program planning.
Additionally, the SLiCE participants will have the opportunity to serve within the community. “I’m most looking forward to making Bloomington-Normal feel more like home by giving back to the community,” Brown said. “I want to be able to make an impact and be a part of something much larger than any one person.”