Community service used to be something I just did on weekends, says Jennifer Bastress, a senior in the School of Nursing. But it has become a way of life for me. It is very much a part of my education at this university.
Bastress has been involved in some type of community service since her freshman year, and now serves on two national, one state and one U-M board involving community service projects, as well as co-chairing student-run Project SERVEs board.
Bastress says that community service involving U-M students is more than just feeding the hungry or refurbishing homeless shelters.
On this campus we have outstanding programs, she says, some of the top in the country. And this is because what we do is not just volunteerism, it is going out and investigating why people are hungry, why there is illiteracy. We see the results and we see some of the things that we, as responsible citizens, can do, how we can utilize our education to help change some of the social injustices.
Band-aid solutions are not enough, Bastress saysefforts that just take care of the immediate problem without looking deeper for the causes.
There is a tie between critical thinking skills and community service, she says. We find that students are looking at the root causes of homelessness, hunger and illiteracy and seeing that they are connected.
Bastress says that we need to stretch the concept of community to include Detroit because what affects Detroit will affect Ann Arbor as well.
Bastress is one of two students appointed to the new Task Force on Community Service Learning. She also serves as chair of Youth Service Americas Youth Action Council, sits on the national board of directors for the Campus Outreach Opportunity League, and is one of two student representatives on the Presidents Advisory Council for Michigan Campus Compact, a consortium of 18 Michigan colleges and universities involved in community service learning.