Simpson wins big with service efforts

Simpson wins big with service efforts

For the second time in three years, Simpson was awarded the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its dedication to service. The award, which was received by 10 other colleges and universities in Iowa, is a federally-recognized achievement that highlights Simpson’s commitment to community service and time given to the underprivileged.

The college provides various opportunities to students to take part in community service efforts in Indianola and Des Moines.

Bobby Nalean has been working very closely with the Lilly Initiative and the Simpson Service Hub. Nalean, who is also a 2007 graduate of Simpson, is very proud that the college is being recognized for its hard work.

“This award is special because it recognizes the Simpson community for its consistent dedication to service,” Nalean said. “Also, it distinguishes us from other institutions in Iowa that have received this award.

Nalean feels this award will communicate how much service is a part of the Simpson experience. He said that the best part of his position at Simpson is hearing students reflect on what the experience has taught them about themselves and about their community.

“Some students are timid or unsure about doing service, but once they go through the experience, many of them are affected in very significant ways,” Nalean said.

Carolyn Dallinger, assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology, is also happy to see the college rewarded for its hard work. Dallinger, who provides service opportunities to students in her classes, has students spend time with children at Garten Elementary School in Des Moines.

“They [students] really act like a big brother, big sisters–the partners get to decided what they do,” Dallinger said. “Through that, they develop friendships and they can really be a support person for a young child.”

Dallinger, who has been doing this program in her Introduction to Sociology class for the last five years, says that students have responded to her very well when it comes to feedback on their experiences in the inner city.

“My students use it as a laboratory for learning more about sociology,” Dallinger said. “From gender to race and ethnicity, family, are all the different elements of sociology that we study.”

Since Simpson first received the award in 2006, the college has added more courses that are rooted in service learning and the Lilly Initiative alone gave out 95 Wesley Service Scholarships in 2007, according to the Simpson Web site.

Freshman Laura Reid has made service learning a part of her college experience. Reid, who is currently involved in Shalom Zone and Big Brothers, Big Sisters is also a Wesley Service Scholar this semester.

“In the beginning of the year, I didn’t know what to volunteer in,” Reid said. “Some opportunities were suggested to me through e-mails and since I have started volunteering, I have met a lot of people and I hope to get involved in other opportunities in the future.”

Reid also feels providing opportunities to students has the chance to bring people together and to do a lot of hands-on work. She also is happy that she has had the ability to work closely with children.

“I’ve become a lot closer to children and it’s the first time I have hung out one-on-one with someone that is younger than me,” Reid said. “It’s helped me see the imagination of a little child again and this was something that is nice to have around.”

While the service award is a great accomplishment for the campus, Nalean still encourages students to get involved and hopes that people know what the Lilly Initiative is working toward.

“Part of Lilly’s mission is to offer creative ways for students to become engaged in the world,” Nalean said. “Our hope is that, through their involvement in the community with hands-on, real-life experiences, students will lean Simpson with a better understanding of themselves in terms of discovering a sense of vocation, as well as a better understanding of what it means to be a contributing member of a community.”