The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), active on the WSU Pullman campus for almost 25 years, gives students ways to get involved in the community and raises awareness of issues ranging from women’s rights and political discussions to poverty.
Melanie Brown, director of the CCE, said the organization presents students with a variety of options for getting involved. She said they offer both single-impact projects and ongoing projects, in which students can see steady change in the local and regional community.
Brown said students are also involved in a variety of campaigns focused on engagement and social issues, such as Cougs Vote and Poverty Awareness Week.
Erin McIlraith, marketing & communication coordinator at the CCE, said their activities are not limited to the average community service. For example, she said, they do food drives and visits to senior homes.
“We want students to know that community service can be fun,” she said.
Brown said that the CCE is unique because it provides hands-on learning for issues that students are passionate about. She said it can help shape career paths for students and establishes life-long learning.
“The work of the CCE is based on strong campus and community relationships, providing unique opportunities for students, and serving the state of Washington and beyond,” Brown said.
The CCE schedules more than 25 events each week during the semester. McIlraith said students can sign up on CougSync by themselves or with friends. Registered student organizations and Greek organizations can also sign up. The CCE provides a project leader and transportation to events.
Brown said that participating with the CCE will be a positive college experience. Along with a degree, she said, WSU develops students into engaged participants in a democratic society.
“College is a time for exploration, finding one’s passion, and discovering ways to see first-hand how your own action can make a difference,” she said. “These experiences are intentionally designed to help students examine their role in a larger community.”
McIlraith encourages freshmen and all new students to get involved in the community early so they can potentially find what they are passionate about. She said numerous studies support the claim that students who do community service perform better in school.
Senior microbiology major Tyra Velasco is a project leader with the CCE and said her experiences have helped her enjoy her college experience more.
“You get out what you put in and it can be a great experience,” she said.
Velasco said she recommends students get involved off campus to become aware of what they can do to help the community.