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Rachel Edens named program coordinator for Tusculum College’s Center for Civic Advancement

Posted on 15 July 2011 by srichey@tusculum.edu

As of June 1, Rachel Edens joined Tusculum College in the Center for Civic Advancement (CCA) as the new program coordinator.  Edens will take over duties from former CCA Director Joyce Doughty, who retired at the end of July after many years of service to the college.

Edens attended the University of North Carolina, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in African-American studies. She is also a graduate of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Business Essentials program.

Rachel Edens

“I look forward to the opportunity to continue to grow the programs associated with the Center of Civic Advancement,” said Edens. “These programs are essential to the uniqueness of Tusculum College and are part of the overall dedication that Tusculum College has to instilling the value of service in its students.”

Edens relocated to Greeneville to accept an AmeriCorps VISTA position with the Center for Civic Advancement in May of 2010.  As a VISTA volunteer, she redeveloped a mentoring initiative between Tusculum’s Bonner Leader Program and Greeneville Middle School, fostered new community partnerships, increased the capacity of service-learning activities and wrote and was awarded a grant by United Healthcare to establish new programming to reduce childhood obesity.

One result of this grant funding was the establishment of a community garden at the Greeneville/Greene County Boys and Girls Club.

“It is great to have Rachel join us permanently, and I’m certain she will be inspiring to students, staff and faculty who participate in the various service projects and programs of the CCA,” said Dr. Melinda Dukes, associate vice president for academic affairs.

The Center for Civic Advancement is dedicated to effecting positive change by promoting social responsibility, social justice and equity through civic engagement and service learning partnerships involving students, campus and the community. The CCA promotes service-learning on Tusculum’s campuses by connecting students to volunteer opportunities in the local area. The Center also provides faculty with resources to incorporate course-related service projects into their classes.

For more information on the Center for Civic Advancement and its programs, contact Edens at (423) 636-7327.

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Hunger Banquet at focuses on issues of hunger and distribution of food resources

Posted on 13 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

A plastic bucket of water and a bowl of rice were waiting as dinner for a majority of the participants of the Oxfam Hunger Banquet Wednesday, March 23, at Tusculum College.

Representing the food resources of roughly half of the world’s population, the meager amount of food was shared by Tusculum students who sat on the floor and had no utensils to use other than plastic cups.

Coordinated by the Tusculum Bonner Leader student service organization, the Oxfam Hunger Banquet is designed to give participants, through their experience, an understanding of how the world’s food resources are distributed among the world population and some of the issues faced by people living at each level.

As they entered, each participant in the Hunger Banquet received a ticket that indicated in which economic group (low, middle, or high) he or she was assigned. The ticket also described the life of a specific individual in that economic group. Some tickets described two individuals, one in the economic group in a third world country and another one in the United States who had been helped by one of Oxfam’s programs to assist people in becoming self-sufficient.

Bonner Leader Kalie Smith served as the master of ceremonies, sharing statistics about each of the income groups.  The majority of the students and staff who attended were in the low-income group, representing about 50 percent of the world’s population. Smith told the group about a widow in Ethiopia struggling to raise seven children, a family that typically eats one small meal a day.

A smaller group was designated as the middle-income group, representing about 35 percent of the world’s population. This group fared a bit better as they were able to sit on chairs for their meal of rice and beans. This group did have plastic forks and plates to use during their meal.  Smith noted that this group often lives paycheck to paycheck and a loss of a job, a bad growing season or some other factor over which they usually have no control can result in dropping down into the low-income group.

Four people received “high-income” cards and were seated at a table set with silverware and glass tableware to be served a meal of pasta and salad. Smith noted that the high-income group represented about 15 percent of the world’s population, those earning $12,000 per year and up who can afford nutritious meals each day.

Smith also shared information from Oxfam about the causes of hunger, noting it is not an issue of a lack of food production but an unequal distribution of resources.

Participants were encouraged to learn more about hunger and its root causes, to share that information with others and to become involved with a group like Oxfam America that works to find solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice.

Oxfam America is a part of Oxfam International, a confederation of 14 Oxfams working in 98 countries. Together with individuals and local groups in these countries, Oxfam works to feed the hungry, help people overcome poverty and fight for social justice.

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Bonner Foundation president commends service leader students

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Bonner Foundation president commends service leader students

Posted on 12 September 2006 by tcrabtree@tusculum.edu

Bonner Foundation president visits Tusculum CollegeWayne Meisel, president of the Bonner Foundation, on Thursday told Tusculum College students in the service leader program that bears the foundation’s name that their group is among the best in the country.

“I would put the people in this room up against any group from any college around the country and know you would get things done because of what you have already accomplished,” Meisel told members of Tusculum’s Bonner Leaders program as he met with them during a reception Thursday afternoon. Meisel visited Tusculum College as part of a trip to visit colleges and universities with Bonner programs in this region.

The Bonner Foundation, one of the nation’s largest privately funded service scholarship programs, works with about 70 universities and colleges to create a culture of service on college campuses. Housed in the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum, the Bonner Leader program, currently composed of 15 students, provides leadership training, a tuition grant and a channel for students to serve in their community.

Meisel asked the students about the effect the Bonner Leader program has had in their lives and received a variety of answers. Alejandra Chavez said her Bonner Leader service placement was in a local school, and she has been chosen for a position at the school because school administrators got to know her through her service.

Anup Kaphle, a native of Nepal, said when he came to America, he thought of America as a great country where people did not have to face the same challenges as in his homeland. But, he said, when he traveled to Caretta, W. Va., for a service trip, he saw people living in the same conditions as found in Nepal.

Megan Ownby said her service experiences have helped strengthen her desire to reach her educational goals and return to her home community to serve and help better conditions there.

The students also commented that their Bonner Leader experiences have helped them be more open to others needs and perspectives.

Meisel then asked the students about how the program could be strengthened and more students become involved. He encouraged and challenged them to continue in their service and to help expand the program by involving more students.

The students also told Meisel about the service projects that are part of their Bonner Leader responsibilities. Students are working as tutors through a program of the George Clem Multicultural Association, helping in the local Truancy Office, tutoring and working with children at the Backyard Learning Center after-school program for Tusculum View Elementary School students from low income families, assisting senior citizens at Plaza Towers learn to use e-mail to stay in touch with family and friends, and helping spread information on campus about service opportunities and the Bonner Leader program.

As part of the program, Bonner Leaders are required to fulfill 100 hours of volunteer time per semester, participate in group service projects, assume leadership roles, and serve in individual service placements. They may address such issues as improving educational opportunities, fighting hunger, illiteracy, drug and alcohol abuse or environmental concerns. Student members participate in regular training and reflection activities sponsored by the campus, their community partners and the Bonner Foundation. A $1,000 tuition grant per semester is available for students accepted into the Bonner Leader program.

Prior to meeting with the students, Meisel met with college officials about the program including Dr. Kim Estep, provost and vice president of academic affairs; Melinda Dukes, assistant vice president of academic affairs, and Robin Fife, Bonner Leaders program director.

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