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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

UNCP is a rising leader among leaders

UNC Pembroke is a leader in leadership.

No where was this more apparent than at the annual North Carolina Campus Compact Student Conference on Service-Learning where UNCP students led two sessions and helped plan the event, which was attended by about 20 other schools.

Held at Duke University on October 30, the conference is dedicated to sharing ideas about community service, civic engagement and service learning in higher education. UNCP gave other universities something to think about at two presentations: the first on the Leadership and Service Opportinities Program (LSOP) and the second on the annual Campaign for Compassion.

Conference at Duke – Front row: Melanie Clark (advisor), Megan Grimsley, Lenora Parker and Kristina Chaney. Back row: Brenda Lathen, Charlie Davis, Lea Winfield, Nakeisha Lewis, Jether James and Gary McQueen.

Conference at Duke – Front row: Melanie Clark (advisor), Megan Grimsley, Lenora Parker and Kristina Chaney. Back row: Brenda Lathen, Charlie Davis, Lea Winfield, Nakeisha Lewis, Jether James and Gary McQueen.

Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, William and Mary, NC State University, Elon and other major universities were represented at the conference. UNCP Sophomore Megan Grimsley helped plan the conference.

“We’ve been discussing this conference since this summer,” Grimsley said. “I want to help plan it again next year with the goal of bringing the meeting to our campus sometime in the future.”

In some ways Grimsley, a Lauringburg, N.C., native who is a double major in biology and chemistry, is atypical of the 700 or so UNCP students in the LSOP program.

“In middle school, I started volunteering at a nursing home near my house, but in high school I could not connect with any community service projects,” she said. “The summer before I came (to UNCP), I called (LSOP director) Melanie Clark to find out what community service opportunities were available. Now, I want to do everything, and I’m in everything.”

Megan Grimsley planning

Megan Grimsley planning

At the conference, Grimsley said students seemed interested that UNCP had one central clearing house for community service and volunteer programs.

“What was attractive about our program to other students is that LSOP can accommodate a lot of students, more than 700 in our case,” she said. “I learned some things at the conference too.”

“LSOP has a good program at Pembroke Elementary. I heard about a very successful middle school program,” Grimsley said. “They were able to establish friendships and become more like mentors to the kids.”

Grimsley found another program that she would like to duplicate at UNCP.

“Students from Appalachian State presented a program called ‘Dance Around the Table,’” she said. “It’s a 24-hour dance marathon to raise money for charity.”

Grimsley was not the only member of the UNCP contingent who liked the dance marathon idea. Lea Winfield, coordinator for this year’s Campaign for Compassion, liked it too.

Lea Winfield at the podium

Lea Winfield at the podium

“It sounded really interesting, and it would be a lot of fun,” Winfield said. “We are brainstorming about incorporating it into the Campaign for Compassion.”

Winfield said she was proud to represent UNCP at the Campus Compact Student Conference on Service-Learning.

“Everybody said our presentations were the most professional, and a lot of students came up to us afterward and asked how they could get a campaign started at their school,” Winfield said.

Winfield believes there is a lot of work to do at UNCP.

“In general, I would say students today are about an eight out of 10 for their concern for the community, but I would say we are a six on our campus,” Winfield said.

LSOP Director Melanie Clark said there is a lot of work to be done with students on campus and in the community.

“I am very proud of the students who are involved in LSOP and Campaign for Compassion,” Clark said. “They are determined to make a difference as well as improve their leadership skills. These programs are not required, so the students who are involved seek it out for personal development reasons or to be active in the community.”

“I believe that UNCP has an obligation to provide learning opportunities for students to practice and become good citizens,” she said. “LSOP and Campaign for Compassion are two avenues that meet our mission.”

For more information about LSOP or the Campaign for Compassion, please contact Melanie Clark at 910.521.6207 at the Office of Student Activities or email melanie.clark@uncp.edu.

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