CCELL Launches Inaugural #MakeBeautiful Campaign, Celebrates Former Director's Legacy of Service
Dr. Marybeth Lima was Director of LSU’s Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership (CCELL) from 2010 to 2018. An engineer with a lifelong goal of making sure every East Baton Rouge public school has a safe and fun playground, she is known locally and nationally for her playground builds and design projects. Each playground Dr. Lima has helped construct brings together engineering students and professionals, teachers, students, community leaders, and parents in designing, planning, and building processes. It is a win for her students, for community members, and for local kids! Dr. Lima’s approach has made her a nationally-recognized model for top-notch service-learning practice(s). In addition to this, she is also a bright light in the lives of people who know her.
For this reason, every year in April during the National Volunteer’s Week, the team at CCELL will now celebrate a (M)ake (B)eautiful campaign to recognize Dr. Lima’s living legacy and the work people everywhere (LSU and beyond) do to #MakeBeautiful the world around them.
- Dr. Janene Grodesky, School of Kinesiology Professor, College of Human Sciences and Education
This semester, Dr. Janene Grodesky’s Kinesiology 3605: Health and the Aging Process class partnered with organizations facilitating older adults’ wellness, such as the Capital Area YMCA, BREC, local Assisted Living Centers, and the EBR Coalition on Aging. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, many of these centers closed quickly and early. Grodesky did not want her students (who had yet to complete their hours) to miss out on earning service-learning credit, though. So, she created a new service option: Students without hours could (from home) teach an older adult how to use a social technology platform.
As Grodesky put it, “Older adults in assisted or nursing care already tend to be isolated. Older adults who relied on the Y or BREC for community cannot access those sites. I want to create a sense of empowerment through technology for those populations; and I want my students to bridge that gap and experience teaching and learning through the lens of an older adult."
- Nicholas Totaro, Biological Engineering Instructor, College of Engineering
Nicholas Totaro’s Biological Engineering 2350 (Experimental Methods for Engineers) classes had a service-learning partnership with Big Buddy of Baton Rouge for Spring 2020. When COVID-19 changed things, that partnership had to be put on hold. Totaro was proactive about ensuring his students could experience serving safely in a time of crisis, however.
He adopted a replacement assignment that encouraged students to think critically about what “community” means and to identify something they could do during the crisis to serve others while abiding by federal and state social distancing guidelines. Reflecting in the end on the role service has in a time of crisis and how socially-distant service can support community, Totaro opened up a chance for future professionals to think broadly about how connectedness to community is impactful.
- Sharon Andrews, Senior English Instructor and LSU’s 2019-2020 Outstanding Service-Learning Faculty
Award Winner, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Sharon Andrews faced the challenge of re-imagining service work for multiple classes this semester when the COVID-19 crisis emerged. Students in her ENGL 2000 composition classes were able to work from home producing final projects for their community partner, Connections for Life. Students in her ENGL 2027 poetry class had to innovate, however.
Andrews provided the opportunity for them to create collections of poems for the Connections for Life community with special emphasis on providing hope for recovery during the pandemic crisis. Andrews says, “I'm excited to see my students use what they’ve learned about the power of words to transform us and to make a positive contribution to our community.”
- Rachel Stevens, English Instructor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Rachel Stevens’ English 2000 composition classes could no longer work with the LSU Food Bank as they had been when COVID-19 changed LSU’s daily operations. Stevens opened up a multiplicity of safe service options for her students. Since part of their original project was a food drive, some of her students shifted to making materials for a future drive.
Still others created resources for LSU students such as cooking videos, tutorials, college “cooking hacks,” knowledge about affordable food near campus for when people are back, information about food insecurity among college students, and more. Stevens’ flexibility and wide variety of options ensured students continued to craft their writing skills while supporting the class partnership with the food bank and building community more broadly.
- Joseph Dunbar, Senior, Kinesiology, College of Human Sciences and Education
Fall 2020 Engaged Citizen Program candidate Joseph Dunbar had yet to begin the 10 service hours for his service-learning contract option KIN 3515: The Physiological Basis of Activity course before the social distance mandate went in effect. Motivated to keep his service-learning contract intact, Dunbar designed a creative alternate service project that could be done safely from home that also connects to the course’s learning objectives. The kinesiology major has begun filming a short video that demonstrates how to regulate blood pressure during and after exercise that he will publish via his social media platforms.
This service project also reinforced the state-issued social distancing mandates for Joseph, a Baton Rouge, La. native.
“A person who is asymptomatic for COVID-19 could feel well, may not adhere to the mandate and socialize with others, which could potentially put others at risk for developing the virus,” he explained. “If they have a pre-existing condition such as high blood pressure, it could take longer to recover.
Not only is Dunbar learning more about the importance of exercise and its positive effect on blood pressure and the human body, he has gained newfound appreciation for his professors. “It takes a lot of research and planning to become well-versed on a topic and then present that topics to others,” he said.
- Tony Bui, Senior, Biological Sciences, College of Science
Tony Bui, a Spring 2020 Engaged Citizen Program candidate, fulfilled his service-learning contract-option for PHIL 2025: Bioethics by organizing a dental hygiene supply drive alongside New Orleans church Baptist Friendship House for the local homeless population. Beneficence, or treating patients (and people in general) with morally good acts, influenced his service project. It is one of the four basic principles of bioethics that LSU students examine in the course.
Bui’s supply drive collected hundreds of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and traveler-sized floss and mouthwash. Although the rate of homelessness in greater New Orleans has decreased by 81%, Bui emphasized “there’s still a need to serve.”
“My love for God and passion for dentistry has [inspired] me to serve with my family, friends and professional peers,” said Bui, a New Orleans native and senior biological sciences major. “I encourage everyone who has a desire or idea to serve to go for it! Engage those around you to turn thoughts into action.”
- Kaitlyn Fagan, Senior, Kinesiology, College of Human Sciences and Education
Summer 2020 Engaged Citizen Program candidate Kaitlyn Fagan volunteered at Beyond Gymnastics, a gymnastics facility for children with special needs, to fulfill the service-learning contract option for KIN 3514: Biomechanical Basis of Kinesiology. Her tasks included: holding children’s hands while they walked across the balance beam, helping to left them up as they jumped to grab onto the rings, and spotting them as they bear crawled down the parallel bars. Over her 10 hours at Beyond Gymnastics, the senior kinesiology major learned first-hand about irregular gait patterns and the importance of ergonomics to reduce pain and injuries.
As an aspiring physician assistant, Fagan described her service was an invaluable opportunity because not only was she able to relate it to biomechanics and her other kinesiology courses, but she also observed the patience and compassion displayed by the coaches.
“Patience was certainly essential…” said Fagan, a Lake Charles, La. native. “I hope to be able to gently explain diagnoses and treatment plans to future patients even in moments of chaos or when the patient just seems to not be understanding.
- Alexandria Duque, Sophomore, Mass Communications, Manship School of Mass Communications
Alexandria Duque is enrolled in ENGL 2027 with 2019-2020 Outstanding Service-Learning Faculty Award winner Sharon Andrews this semester, where she is working remotely (due to COVID-19) on service with community partner, Connections for Life. Duque is an LSU student majoring in Mass Communications and also belongs to the Louisiana National Guard. Her unit, 139th RSG, responds to state emergencies. Her usual job is in military intelligence, but during this crisis she took an opportunity to serve as a Public Affairs Representative.
Alexandria’s unit is running a distribution center for donated PPE and medical supplies in Baton Rouge. They also work with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to pack and deliver food in 11 different parishes. Duque runs the 139th RSG’s social media, creating ways to familiarize the public with their work and boost morale in her unit and community. She photographs and interviews soldiers taking inventory, packing, and shipping life-sustaining goods. Her willingness to adjust her professional role ina time of need has helped connect people and spread hope. See some of her work at: https://www.instagram.com/139th_rsg/.