MOUNT OLIVE — Mount Olive College is committed to engaging students in the kind of service that builds citizenship and communities. The college believes that it has the ability to not only transform the lives of students, but to also transform the lives of those who come in contact with its students. President Philip P. Kerstetter said, “Mount Olive college embraces and support acts of service as tangible expressions of our Mission, Vision and Values statements. To us, service is a lasting engagement with a place, a people, a culture.”
One way that the college incorporates service learning opportunities is through ADV 100, a semester-long course required for all Mount Olive college freshmen. A major component of the course is service learning. Typically, students begin by exploring various community service opportunities that the class relates to and preparing for their role as a service learner in the community. Then they spend time using their skills to provide community service. Finally, a reflection component is built into the classroom work, allowing students to process the experience.
This semester alone students wrote letters to troops overseas; gave presentations to middle school students; stuffed teddy bears with the residents of a nursing home; cleaned pens, walked animals and collected money for pet supplies for the local animal shelter; picked up trash; organized a golf tournament to raise money for breast cancer awareness; prepared pre-packaged meals for Stop Hunger Now organization; conducted a canned food drive to benefit a local church food pantry; raised money to help a local church with roof repairs; organized a community walk/run; and the list goes on and on.
“Outreach and service in the community are a vital component of the first year experience for our students,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dan Sullivan. “The college is very much integrated into our community though personal and business relationships, events, and the experiences we share. It is critical for our students to understand how they each play a role in this community and how important it is to take a leadership role in supporting those around the college. It is our hope that these types of experiential learning opportunities will instill additional leadership qualities that will be transferred back to their individual communities once they graduate from the college.”
Community service is not limited to the freshman class. All areas of the college are encouraged to participate in community service. In August of 2011 the Board of Trustees approved a “Service to the Community Leave Policy,” which gives full-time staff members four hours of leave time each month to use in service to nonprofit organizations. “In this time of economic distress, volunteers are needed more than ever. Mount Olive college represents an enormous pool of idealism and energy, and through our policies and our actions we are helping tackle some of our communities’ biggest challenges,” Kerstetter said.
Service is also an important aspect of many of the clubs and organizations at MOC. Take for example the Collegiate FFA at Mount Olive College. This semester alone they have gleaned over 30,000 pounds of vegetables which equates to 137,842 servings of food for the hungry. Whitley Lovette, a freshman agribusiness major from Stantonsburg, NC, stated, “It was a new experience for me and I got to work with a great team of CFFA members. The fact that the food is donated to the Food Bank gave me a ‘good Samaritan’ feeling. Watching the truck drive off and knowing that we helped someone who is hungry means more than anything else.”
The benefits of community service include: higher academic achievement, enhanced problem-solving skills, enhanced civic engagement attitudes, etc. Freshman Luz Vazquez Rivera of Wilson, who helped organize a “Stop Hunger Now” event to prepare pre-packaged meals for individuals in impoverished countries, said, “I think it is important that we, as students, give back to our community because of the many opportunities our community has given us. Volunteering gives us the opportunity to become more knowledgeable in the world around us, learn important lessons that we can instill into future generations, and learn leadership skills.”
Mount Olive college is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The college, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.