Part of Florida Gulf Coast University’s mission statement is a commitment to service. A group of students living on campus are living up to that commitment every day, and other schools are noticing.
The Live-Learn Community was recently recognized in the annual Florida Campus Compact Awards for its commitment to community-enriching service. The community consists of 29 first-year students with a common passion: serving others.
Students who are involved in the Live-Learn Community take some of the same classes (including IDS 2930, Leadership through Service), live on the same floor of Everglades Hall in South Village, and most importantly, participate in service-learning projects together. Last year, the group partnered with The Immokalee Foundation, which is focused on empowering residents of the rural farming community. This year, the service opportunities are nearly endless.
Katharine O’Connor is the Live-Learn coordinator. “We have so many projects. Several students did a campus clean-up with the Physical Plant, and we’re planning to work with Habitat for Humanity pretty soon,” she said.
O’Connor co-teaches the Leadership through Service course with Maria Roca that is required for all members of the community.
“I know there are a few students planning to work with CREW [Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed] and some others will work with the Wesley Foundation to participate in Stop Hunger Now,” O’Connor said. “Last year, the community completed about 1200 service hours. I’m excited to see what we’ll accomplish this year”
Although the Live-Learn Community is only in its second year, it has already been recognized in the Florida Campus Compact Awards twice. According to Service-Learning Director Jessica Rhea, “Florida Campus Compact is comprised of more than 50 college and university presidents who are committed to helping students develop the skills of active citizenship.”
The name of the award earned by the Live-Learn Community this year is the Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Award.
“It is quite an honor to be selected from among these institutions,” Rhea said.
O’Connor agreed that the award is an important indicator that FGCU is achieving its service mission. “It’s a wonderful accomplishment,” O’Connor said. “I feel like FGCU is leading the movement in service-learning programs.”
Although the Live-Learn Community is only available for first-year students, some members choose to become peer mentors during the next academic year. They work with the new students to come up with service projects and events.
“The thing that’s great about [the Live-Learn Community] is our holistic approach,” O’Connor said. “We love student input, and we base pretty much every service project around what they feel passionate about.”