COVE Celebrates Service Programs

David Spencer Seconi

On Thursday, April 2, the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education’s (COVE) Celebration of Service proved that Colgate students are anything but apathetic.

Hosted in Cunniff Commons, or the Ho Science Center atrium, Colgate’s many service-based organizations gathered in celebration of this year’s many efforts. The multitude of tables lined back-to-back was a testament to the activities of almost 800 Colgate students.

Often, students do not participate in a service program simply because they feel that there is no program that encompasses all of their own talents or interests. However, the existing opportunities at Colgate are quite multifaceted. For students who like to work with children, there are the Hamilton Elementary and Secondary Tutoring or Liberty Kids programs. Those interested in the arts can explore their creativity to the fullest with other local Hamilton teens in the Madison Craft Club. Students who like to throw a football can work with the group Team Players, which gives them the opportunity to both tutor and play sports with local area students. In all, the COVE has over 35 student-led programs.

The keynote speaker for the night’s festivities was Vice President and Dean of the College Charlotte H. Johnson. She broke her speech down into three parts: The Power of One, the importance of service learning and her personal experiences in volunteerism.

One of the most powerful mindsets, according to Johnson, is the ability to “look inward, and ask yourself what you can do before you simply wait for others.” This mindset is what describes the Power of One, the belief that one individual, through perseverance and will, can enact true change through his or her own individual actions. To explain her belief in this principle, Johnson described the stories of James Meredith, Melissa Etheridge and John Glenn, three individuals who never lost their determination in the face of overwhelming odds.

Her second point spoke most directly to the Colgate student community. Johnson said that attending school and gathering knowledge is unimportant if we desire knowledge for knowledge’s sake. She stated that service learning was “education in action,” and that students of higher education had a calling beyond the teaching in the classroom.

“Life is more than the latest phone, shoes, purses and styles, and more than simply how can I get, get, get,” Johnson said, “and sometimes we should stop and think, ‘Wow, I have a lot.'” The importance of service learning lies not in the action itself, she explained, but in the value of the experience with others who are different from ourselves.

Johnson ended her speech with a description of her own personal service experience in high school, when she asked to teach another African-American student in her SAT tutoring program.

“Well what do you know, they put me with the only white student in the entire program. However, my interactions with Patty truly taught me that it was never about black, white, red or brown. If you want to help, it should be all about helping people,” Johnson said in her speech.

Director of the COVE Ingrid Hale further explained the center’s role on campus.

“We are looking to transition the Colgate students away from the high school mentality of service and to challenge them to think more deeply about their work,” Hale said. “We hope to assist in the development of their relations with others in the community or in different service objectives.”