The Haslam Community Makes a Volunteer Impact

Initiated in 2018 by the Haslam Undergraduate Cabinet, the Haslam Volunteer Impact (HVI) program recognizes community service by students, faculty, and staff. The program acknowledges participants when they reach 40, 80, 120, and 160 hours of service. This year, 213 Haslam students have progressed from one tier to the next, and six of these were honored at a recognition ceremony on April 29 for volunteering more than 160 hours during their time at college.

Lailah Blackwell, a senior studying supply chain management and finance, was one of those honored. She’s volunteered with several local nonprofit organizations, including Keep Knoxville Beautiful and the FISH Hospitality Pantry. “Using my abilities to help someone else is a great feeling and a great way to spend my spare time,” Blackwell says. “I think it’s important to serve the community because as students, we’re part of the community.”

Ramo Stott, professional development coordinator for HVI, says the program recognizes that being a volunteer is part of who students are while at Haslam and beyond. “It guides our experiences in the world,” Stott says.

The college’s Office of Student Engagement has several ways to connect students, faculty, and staff with volunteer opportunities. BUAD 405, part of a series of professional development courses required for all Haslam undergraduates, challenges students to consider how their education will help them make a positive impact. “That includes teaching them to identify needs, find service opportunities, and volunteer,” says Stott. “We focus on skills-based volunteering, knowing that business professionals have many talents to offer to nonprofit organizations, such as marketing, accounting, or analytics.”

Another initiative, Haslam Serves, provides a monthly opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to volunteer together. The program has worked with Beardsley Community Farm, KARM, and the Ben Atchley Tennessee State Veterans Home.

In addition, the Office of Student Engagement often relays opportunities to Haslam students from the campus-wide Clay and Debbie Jones Center for Leadership and Service. Including all the college’s programs, 1,718 Haslam students have recorded 15,311 hours of service during the 2020–2021 academic year.

Mark Willoughby, director of student engagement at the college, says these service initiatives plant the seeds of community engagement within students. “The university has a focus on experiential learning, and we recognize service as a high-impact practice that deeply impacts students,” Willoughby says. “We want to make sure they have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and take what they’ve learned to their future communities.”

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