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Vivienne Felix, a junior double majoring in International Affairs and English from Hollis, N.Y., is one of just two students selected from Pennsylvania to attend a Campus Compact national summit Nov. 7-9 in Providence, R.I., titled “Realizing the Civic Mission of Higher Education: How Far Have We Come? What Does the Future Hold?”

Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 740 college and university presidents committed to the civic purposes of higher education. The meeting will involve representative faculty members, community service directors, institutional leaders, and students. The student track of the summit will attempt to translate what has been learned about student engagement through recent studies and student forums into “action steps” that will serve to educate and mobilize educators and students. Summit sessions will engage student participants in dialogue and action planning rather than rely on outside speakers.

Felix is a coordinator of the Kids in the Community (KIC) program conducted through Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center, in which students assist elementary and middle school children in four Easton public housing neighborhoods with homework and organize arts and crafts. She began her involvement in KIC by volunteering at its annual summer camp in the summer before her first year at Lafayette. “I participated in volunteer activities in high school, so it seemed natural to continue to do so in the Easton community,” she says.

Felix is one of the 21 community-service assistants in the Outreach Center who organize volunteer programs, arrange all training and transportation, and handle record-keeping and accounting. “It reminds me that there are larger problems in the world,” she says, “and that my good fortune enables me to help others more than they may be able to help themselves.”

“The best moments happen when the children are appreciative of our efforts, or the simple humor that children have when they notice differences between us as 18- to 20-year-old people, and their first- to fourth-grade perspectives,” Felix adds. “My favorite expression from them is “Wow! You’re 20? I hope I can be just like you when I’m grown up.”

Felix also is working an EXCEL Scholar with Diane Shaw, college archivist, on an oral history project that will document the education and life experiences of African-American and women students at Lafayette from the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. She also has served as an EXCEL Scholar with Andrew Fix, professor and head of history, in studying the interpretation of comets through history, particularly their role as harbingers of disaster. In Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, students earn a stipend while assisting faculty with research.

Felix is team leader of an Alternative School Break team that will work just outside Budapest, Hungary with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate on home construction for low-income families in May. She is a member of the International Affairs Club and served as an alternate for the group of students participating in the European Union Simulation in Washington, D.C. last semester. She is a Writing Associate and was a member of the cast of Vagina Monologues, a student production that raised funds earlier this semester for August Survivors Center and Turning Point, two local charities that help victims of sexual and physical abuse, as well as Rawa Charity, which promotes equality for women in Afghanistan. She has been a resident adviser and reporter for The Lafayette. In addition, she plays classical music and violin.

Through Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center, students conduct more than 25 programs of sustained voluntary service in Easton and beyond each year. They help others and learn about social problems by combating poverty; mentoring, tutoring, and educating others; and protecting the environment. In 1999-2000, more than 780 students contributed more than 32,000 hours of community service.

Outreach programs include tutoring children, prison inmates, and those learning English as a second language; educating others about AIDS; mentoring and organizing activities for children; serving meals and working in homeless shelters; volunteering in hospitals and emergency squads; visiting nursing-home residents, and others. The center also works with other groups planning service projects and with the Alternative School Break Club.

As a participant in the Campus Compact summit, Felix will help formulate the next five to seven years of work for the organization. Sessions will explore accomplishments of the past four years, as well as focusing on the work ahead of promoting civic engagement among higher education’s institutions and students.

“This summit is the capstone event for four years of work supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts,” according to Campus Compact. “The Trusts enabled Campus Compact to conduct a range of programs addressing how the institutional resources of campuses can be brought to bear on educating the next generation of civic leaders. We have worked with hundreds of faculty, chief academic officers, and campus community service/service learning professionals to move their institutions to higher levels on the vertical continuum we call the ‘Pyramid of Service Learning.’ This capstone event addresses the pinnacle of that pyramid, gathering those whose work represents the cutting edge of the service and civic education movement in higher education.”

To support its civic mission, Campus Compact promotes community service that develops students’ citizenship skills and values, encourages partnerships between campuses and communities, and assists faculty who seek to integrate public and community engagement into their teaching and research.

Categorized in: Students