The phrase ‘small university with a big heart’ has been engraved in our minds since we first stepped foot at Castleton University. But it couldn’t have been more represented than at the Castleton Engaged event on Jan. 27.
The perimeters of the 1787 Room were lined with students and clubs and their projects that portrayed their devotion to community. Dean Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, Director of Center for the Support and Study of Community Chrispin White and professor Chris Boettcher coordinated the third annual showcase of student work.
“Castleton Engage is our community engagement initiative. We provide opportunities for our students to partner with community organizations,” White said.
When asked about the meaning of community, President David Wolk said, “There are no barriers between the university and the community, whether it’s Castleton, Rutland, Vermont, or the world. We are one global community.”
“When you walk into the foyer here you see 35 flags representing the fact that we have students here from all over the world,” said Wolk.
At this year’s Castleton Engaged, there were about 20 tables of students, slightly fewer than at last year’s event. In past years, community partners also set up tables, but White said, “we just want to focus on the students this year and celebrate the work that they are doing.”
These displays and projects change every year depending on what students are working on. Some students got to highlight their projects during the presentation’s opening.
Johnston-Robledo said she was very excited by the event.
“I’m really proud of all of our students. They’re generous, compassionate and committed. It’s very impressive,” she said.
Senior Dan Errico and senior Conner Johnson shared their work on Project 240, which is collaboration between the university and the Paramount Theatre.
Senior Liz Diohep shared her civic engagement project Democracy Plaza, in which a chalk wall in the education department was created to ask provocative questions and seek answers on educational policy.
Lastly, senior Emma Faucher discussed her project, “Students gave Green on Giving Tuesday” detailing what the campus was able to donate to good causes.
Many clubs on campus were represented as well including Habitat for Humanity Club, Rotaract Club and Right to Play Club.
“It’s an absolute honor to be recognized as one of the top three most active and engaged clubs on campus. I’m super stoked to be here representing Habitat,” said Mollie Johnson, community liaison for the club.
A member of Right to Play, Louis Alhage was also happy to partake, and to see what others were doing.
“It’s eye opening to see what other people are doing out in the community because sometimes I think you get blinders on and think about yourself for a little bit. Then you take a step back and see that others are doing big things as well,” he said.
More and more civic engagement courses are being offered in the curriculum. Junior Kayla Wood was enrolled in Intro to Contemporary Health Issues where she focused her project on Social Media and Depression.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding and a lifestyle change,” she said.
Wolk believes that it’s important and essential for civic engagement courses to be offered in the curriculum.
“They help learning come alive. They connect you with what you’re reading and writing with the real world, and how what you’re learning can truly inspire others and make a difference,” he said.
For more information about civic engagement certificates or classes, contact Dean Ingrid Johnston-Robledo.