It's rare to hear college students chat excitedly about weeding, cleaning, painting and sorting, but as groups trickled back to the Union College campus from serving more than 50 sites around Lincoln, Neb., those were the topics on everyone's mind. "We washed windows, scraped gum off tables, dusted book covers ... none of it was anything I'd think to do on my own," said Ashley Herbel, a freshman pre-med student from Wichita, Kansas after spending the morning at South Library. "But going with a group of friends can make anything fun."
With more than 800 participants, there were a lot of friends, new and old, to transform the chores into constructive play. This year's turnout included over 80 percent of the student body along with college employees and volunteers from other local Seventh-day Adventist organizations. While attendance isn't taken for the volunteer event, Rich Carlson, vice president for spiritual life, said Union's Campus Ministries distributed more t-shirts to campus volunteers than in previous years. "I think this is the largest group we've ever had," Carlson said.
Begun in 1981 as Project Brush, the original goal of the day was to paint 100 houses in 10 years. After completing the 113th house, the event was renamed and the projects diversified. Now volunteers focus on serving the agencies that serve others, providing helping hands to do tasks over-stretched social service organizations have a hard time keeping up with.
"It amazes me you can take 10 or 12 people and get done in a few hours what would take me days to do on my own," said Huda McClelland, Union's director of admissions who has witnessed most of the event's 27-year history.
"What we've heard so far from the agencies is overwhelmingly positive," Carlson said. "They're always amazed by the quantity and quality of work our students do and the attitude with which it is done."
Listening to students talk under the campus' clock tower as they shared 220 pizzas, the conversations always returned to the same refrain: the work wasn't only fast, it was fun. Erin Webb, a senior business administration major from Greenville, Tenn., told about finding a creative outlet while painting barrels at Goodwill. Beau Snyder, a senior from Culver, Ore., described cleaning at the Lincoln Children's Museum as, "playing with a pressure hose." Even when Jennifer Dovich, a junior pre-med student from Turner, Ore., mentioned getting paint in her eye while painting a ceiling at Mahoney Elementary School, she added, "It was worth it, it was awesome and so much fun."
Some former students who have experienced the spirit of the community service event returned to share in the labor and the camaraderie again. Thang Nguyen, an alumnus now working in Web development at Nebraska Books, told his boss about the event and she encouraged him to take the day off to participate. "I didn't want to miss the fun," Nguyen said.
Since its inception, Project Impact has been student-led. This year Ann Bryant, a senior business administration major from Woodbury, Tenn., organized the event for the third time and trained a new coordinator, Emily Carlson, a junior elementary education major from Mohrsville, Pa. Both students, with the assistance of Ashley Groeneweg, a biology education major from Omaha, Neb., spent the summer organizing site lists, coordinating with sponsors and ensuring transportation and tools were available. "Hearing the enthusiasm from the organizations makes the months of planning worth it," Bryant said.
Bryant added, "The worst thing that happened today was I didn't have anywhere to send the people who finished and wanted to do more." While the chores for the day may be completed, she hopes the contacts made will serve as a springboard for future service. Past Project Impacts have developed into long-term commitments for both individuals and student organizations, such as the volleyball team, the women's basketball team and the Union Scholars honors program. "One day of raking or painting makes the community slightly nicer," Bryant said. "But creating an environment where service is fun and exciting can have a big impact on the world."
Special thanks goes to Suzie Grey and InsideOut A capella for permission to use their songs. You can find out more about these talented artists on their Web sites: Suzie Grey InsideOut A capella
Students always want more of three resources: time, money and sleep. So when Union College students are given a day free of classes and other on-campus commitments, it may seem counter-intuitive that 85 percent choose to show up at 8:15 a.m. to spend the day working--for free. But students make up for what they lack with an excess of enthusiasm and altruism. On Thursday, Sept. 4, Union students will once again commit their time and energy to serving the Lincoln community.
"I think everybody wants to help others," said Sara Baptist, sophomore communication major from Canon City, Colo. "When something presents itself like Project Impact, we jump on it. If Union held it more often, people would still go."
Began in 1981, Project Impact has given students the opportunity to change their corner of the world wile establishing lasting connections within the community. An estimated 15,100 volunteers have impacted Lincoln with more than 99,000 hours of voluntary labor since its inception. According to available research, it's the longest running collegiate service day with the highest percentage of participation in the nation.
There's no brownie points, no extra credit--nothing to motivate the mass of students to join the cause other than satisfaction and a free t-shirt. Whether it's raking leaves, painting shelters, serving up soup or helping build a house, Union College students and faculty turn out to do whatever sweaty, grimy work needs to be accomplished for those in need.
Building on the students' energy and 27 years of success, Ann Bryant, senior business administration major and Project Impact coordinator, sees the event as a way for students to connect with agencies they can serve all year. This will be the fourth year Union's women's basketball team will spend the day helping at the Lincoln Children's Museum, a relationship that has grown as the players return throughout the year to help with events.
"I like volunteering. I feel it's important," Baptist said. "It's not easy for kids to just say 'I'm going to volunteer this weekend.'" Students like Baptist can find ways to do more by talking to Union's student volunteer coordinator, Kaylea Blackburn, sophomore international rescue and relief major from Summersville, Mo., or read about a different volunteer opportunity highlighted each week in the Clocktower, Union's student newspaper.
Bryant, now in her third year of planning Project Impact, sees this year's event as a learning experience for her peers. "Of all the pressures you would think could keep students from volunteering--homework, class, extracurricular activities, the price of gas, whatever--the biggest barrier is awareness," Bryant said. "I've learned that the more people I involve in the planning process of this event, the more people understand the purpose of Project Impact and then are able to take on that passion themselves."
On Feb. 6, 2008, Union College's Going Global Career Fair brought recruiters and presenters from 20 organizations to the Don Love Building. From big names such the Peace Corps to the less well-known Active Community Team Services (ACTS), the information available to the attending students was invaluable.
"I think this career fair is a great idea and helps a lot of people," said Jeremy Jones, sophomore international rescue and relief major.
Although only 100-120 actually registered for the event, Doug Tallman, IRR associate director, noted that more likely 150-160 students, as well as some faculty, came to browse and meet recruiters.
"I made more meaningful and intelligent contacts in two hours than I've seen in two days," commented Fred Ramsey from Re-Creation Unlimited who said he has done similar fairs at other campuses. "I was impressed. Union's event was the most successful compared to the other Seventh-day Adventist campus I have visited."
Since the IRR program is relatively new, many students have a difficult time figuring out how best to utilize the skills they're learning. Tallman explained how this career fair targeted these students.
"I think IRR majors benefit the most from the fair as far as putting them on a career path that goes with their major." Jones stated, "But, I think everyone can find something that's applicable to them."
Plans are already being made to repeat the success of the Going Global Career Fair next year. Meghan Weese, a graduate assistant for the Outdoor Education Center at Southern Adventist University, encouraged students to attend the event. "The biggest mistake would be not coming," she said.
The Golden Chords String Quartet, Tom Shepherd, cellist, Frank Restesan, first violin, Derek Bower, violist, and Tim Parfet, second violin.
LINCOLNÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬ÂUnion College Chamber Orchestra and the Golden Cords string quartet will present fall concerts under the direction of new Union College associate professor of music, Dr. Frank Restesan.
On Sunday, Nov. 11, 6 p.m. the Union College Chamber Orchestra will perform in the newly opened atrium to the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church (4801 Prescott Ave.). This Fall Chamber Concert is the debut performance in the new wing of the College View church. The concert will include one romantic selection and three baroque pieces. Freshman flutist Sarah Kohls will be a featured soloist for a Vivaldi concerto. Breanna Thornton, 14-year-old guest violinist will be featured as well.
On Monday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., the Golden Cords string quartet will perform in a Chamber Music Concert in the Engel Hall Recital Room (corner of S. 48th St. and Bancroft Ave.). Program highlights will include a quartet by Hayden and Corelli's Christmas Concerto featuring Dr. Ryan Wells as the keyboard accompanist.
Restesan joined the Union College faculty this school year. In addition to leading the chamber groups, Restesan is the director of the Union College Band. He holds master's degrees in musical stylistics and in music performance as well as a doctorate in conducting from the University of Arizona. Restesan's career has included acting as soloist and concertmaster of the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra (N.Y), the New England Symphonic Ensemble, The University of Arizona Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Chamber Orchestra and core member of the Tucson Symphony. He has studied at the State Conservatory in Cluj (Klausenburg) Romania, with Istvan Ruha, the Bachakademie in Stuttgart, Germany with Dozent Peter Streicher and Helmut Rilling and at The University of Arizona. Dr. Restesan's past teaching appointments include positions as orchestra director, strings and chamber music instructor at Atlantic Union College (Mass.), Antillean Adventist University (Puerto Rico) and Walla Walla College (Wash.). Restesan has appeared on prestigious stages around the world including recitals and concerts in Romania, Hungary, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Puerto Rico and the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Ann Bryant, Union College student chaplain and junior business major, gets excited when her peers have big ideas. "I want to start a tutoring program for refugees and immigrants in Lincoln who don't speak English," said senior Katie Carlson when she came to see Bryant in Campus Ministries recently. "And I want to kick it off during Project Impact next week."
Never mind the short notice, Bryant gave the idea an enthusiastic go-ahead. "We'll do it. How can we help you make this happen?" Bryant said.
LINCOLNÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬ÂAt 10:28 a.m. on the last day registration was open, Serhiy Horokhovskyy became Union College's 1,000th student of the 2007-2008 school year. A senior religion major from Ukraine, Horokhovskyy is the first student since 1983 to help Union College cross the 1000 enrollment mark. By the end of the close of registration on Tuesday, Aug. 28, Union College's official enrollment reached 1,015 students with a full time equivalence of 909.5.
To celebrate the 1,000-student milestone, Union College is invited all students and employees to a free lunch served on the campus Tribute Terrace. In addition to the meal and ice cream from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28, festivities included a short program. Remarks and recognition of the Enrollment Services team by Union College President David Smith were followed by a college-wide sing-a-long of the well-loved school song, "Slinga de Ink." State Senator Tony Fulton joined in the festivities and added his congratulations and support.
"Students come to Union College for many reasonsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âcaring campus family, a Christian atmosphere and for unique programs like international rescue and relief and physician assistant studies," President Smith said. "One thousand is just a number, but the fact that more and more students value Union's campus culture makes me proud of the students, faculty and staff who have invested themselves in Union."
Union's campus has become a home-away-from home for a diverse group of students from 49 states and 26 countries. Four out of five Union students are from outside of Nebraska, that's a higher percentage of non-resident students than any other college in the state.
"When we recruit new students for the college, we don't just sell Union, we sell Nebraska," said Rob Weaver, vice president for Enrollment and Student Financial Services. "On the coasts we get asked 'Where's Nebraska?' and we take every opportunity to tell them about 'The Good Life.'" Of Union's out-of-state students, more than one fifth choose to stay in Nebraska after graduation, contributing to the state's brain gain.
Union College put in place more stringent admissions standards last year and yet has continued its growth. All regularly admitted students must now have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 and an ACT score of 18. While these are not as high as elite universities, they are higher than most of the schools pulling from the same demographic of high school graduates as Union College. "Continuing to attract new students to our campus while simultaneously raising the admissions bar is really exciting," Weaver said.
"While we're delighted to reach this milestone, at Union we've always known that bigger isn't necessarily better," said Smith. "We are grateful for each student here and the opportunities each of them represent for Union and for Christ."
Nichole Scott, sophomore communication major, had considered going to VW several times, but was unsure what the program involved. Then a friend invited her to attend the VW meeting at which Tanya Cochran was the featured speaker. Seeing as Cochran is her boss, former teacher and friend, Scott decided to check it out.
"I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't know if I would like it" Scott said.
Jacque Smith, Union College director of public relations, received The Lincoln Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award. The award, presented at a breakfast at the Cornhusker Hotel on June 1, celebrates the accomplishments of 40 Lincoln-area business owners, managers, entrepreneurs, and professional men and women under 40 years of age. Smith is the second Union College employee to accept the 40 Under 40 Award; accounting professor Lisa Forbes received the award in 2006.