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Honors service program addresses equity issues in Lansing

HC IMPACT serves as a primer for the college experience — allowing incoming first-year students to explore on- and off-campus opportunities while also addressing and acting on equity issues in the community.

This year, the annual week-long program hosted by the Honors College invited 44 incoming first-year students to move in early, find their place, and make change in the greater Lansing community. Attendees participated in service projects as well as faculty and community educator presentations, group reflections, and activities and events to help welcome them to campus.

“Students arriving to MSU often don’t have built-in opportunities to see the greater Lansing area beyond campus,” said HC IMPACT Week of Service program coordinator Erika Crews. “In serving with our community partners throughout the week, participants hear directly from each organization about the services they provide, which populations they support, and the overall impact they make in the community.”

“For some students, HC IMPACT is their first experience with community engaged learning, so it’s really amazing getting to serve alongside community partners and their staff throughout the week,” Crews continued.

MSU faculty and community educator presentations and conversations enlightened students on the program’s themes and the state of social inequity issues involving youth and education, health and wellness, homelessness and poverty, food and nutrition, and the environment.

“I love that we had some presentations paired with volunteer services,” said incoming first-year student Sloane Barlow. “We could turn our newfound knowledge into service learning and gain more perspective after volunteering and seeing all the people who make a difference.”

This year’s service projects were with Able Eyes, Allen Neighborhood Center, Edgewood Village, Greater Lansing Food Bank, Haven House, Hunter Park GardenHouse, Homeless Angels, and Willow Elementary School.

“I really enjoyed this program and the experiences it opened for me in terms of both service and new relationships,” said incoming first-year student Allison Doneth. “I feel like I’ve made a lot of friends and been pushed to participate and engage in discussions and volunteer activities more than ever before. I was hesitant about college life before IMPACT, but now I am very excited to attend MSU.”

The program will extend into the academic year with connection to an Honors first-year seminar course, UGS 101-311H (Big Ideas Seminar) – Section topic: Make an IMPACT: A hands-on approach to addressing inequity in our community, led by Assistant Dean Bess German, Ph.D., and Professor Lee June, Ph.D.

The seminar will expand the participants’ service-learning experience as they are asked to complete 24 hours of service with one of the community organizations they served with during HC IMPACT.

“The week was really inspiring and definitely lived up to the name IMPACT,” said incoming first-year student Chloe Sayre. “We’re not only able to give back to our community, but also have really meaningful conversations about volunteering and making change.”

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