LSU Students Spruce up Schools, Learn More About the Baton Rouge Area at Community Bound
While most college students use the last weekend before school starts to run errands, move into dorm rooms or apartments or just to relax before the upcoming semester, a group of students at LSU chose to do something entirely different. Some 400 LSU students – a group consisting mostly of freshmen and transfer students – spent their last Saturday before the semester giving back to the local community during Community Bound, an annual day of service to public schools and other sites in Greater Baton Rouge.
“Being a top university doesn’t only mean excellence in the classroom or in research, it also means being involved and being an active member of the community,” said LSU Chancellor Michael Martin, who also spent the day participating in Community Bound. “Seeing these incoming students giving their time and energy shows the type of quality individuals joining our campus and the surrounding community each year.”
The students, along with LSU faculty, staff members and student leaders, began the day at the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student Athletes on LSU’s campus before being split into their site teams.
“The turnout’s great,” said Volunteer LSU Communications Director Jared Edwards, senior in political communication from Mer Rouge, La. “The turnout just keeps getting better and better each year, so that’s really all you can ask for.”
Community Bound started in 2003 with 50 students, faculty and staff working at McKinley High School.
“In its seventh year, we have seen Community Bound grow from 50 participants at one public school site to nearly 400 students, staff and faculty impacting 10 public schools this year,” said Mallory Trochesset, assistant director for campus life at LSU. “It’s inspiring to be at a university that promotes and champions civic-engagement. Through programs such as Community Bound, we have seen the positive difference that service makes both in the lives of our students and this community.”
This year’s Community Bound focused on sprucing up schools around East Baton Rouge Parish, including University Terrace, South Boulevard, Belfair, Bernard Terrace, Southdowns, Highland and Magnolia Woods elementary schools; Glasgow, Broadmoor and Mayfair (formerly Robert E. Lee High) middle schools.
“It’s always good to help people in need, especially kids that go to public schools in the Baton Rouge area,” said freshman Doug Ferrara, construction management major from Baton Rouge. “It’s a great opportunity, and I’m glad that I’m able to do this. It makes you feel great to know that you’re helping the kids, especially when they’re in your own community.”
“I was really surprised at how many people came to help out, and it looks like everyone’s doing a great job,” Ferrara added.
Armed with paint rollers and brushes, squeegees, brooms, shovels and pressure washers, the students eagerly tackled the jobs given to them, all in hopes that the East Baton Rouge students would enjoy returning to school on Monday and notice the changes at their schools.
“One of the people that work here said how they (the students) started already, so it will be a little treat for them that’s new and exciting,” said freshman Megan Simon, psychology major from Erath, La.
While Community Bound is designed to provide students with the opportunity to give back to the community, it also provides them with a way to meet and interact with their fellow classmates and LSU’s faculty and staff who participate.
“It’s a great chance to get involved because a lot of incoming freshmen don’t have their niche,” Edwards said. “It’s a good chance to get involved, meet other people and continue onto LSU for the rest of the remaining year.”
Many of the incoming students are eager to find groups that do volunteer work and give back to the community.
“I was looking for volunteer work, and this seemed like a really good opportunity,” said freshman Joshua Sturdivant, biology major from West Monroe, La. “I just wanted a way to give back to the community.”
For many students, coming to Baton Rouge represents a big change in their lives. Some students are from small towns, while others are coming to Louisiana for the first time from different states or countries. Community Bound not only provides them with an opportunity to give back, but also a chance to see the community around campus.
“I’m not from here so I thought it would be good to get out to see the community and help it and to meet people,” said freshman Kelsey Lawrence, biology major from Maryville, Tenn. “I like it so far. The campus is really pretty. I’m not sure how I feel about the weather yet though, but I’ll get used to it.”
“It’s different than I expected,” said freshman William Vess, a biology major from Atlanta, who learned about Community Bound from the Honors College. “I’m glad I did this because I did get to meet new people. Everyone’s nicer here.”
Freshman Jordan Kane of Benton, La., is familiar with culture and weather in Baton Rouge, but the city itself was what impressed her the most.
“It’s so much bigger than what I’m used to, but I love that,” said Kane, biology major. “I love the city atmosphere. I don’t like the traffic, but I like the city.”
Community Bound is sponsored by Volunteer LSU; LSU Community University Partnership; the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership; LSU Honors College; The LSU African American Cultural Center; Career Services; First Year Experience; Campus Federal Credit Union; and ARAMARK Facility Services.
Ernie Ballard | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations