Beginning Leadership: FWS and Student Leaders at Linn-Benton Community College

Linn-Benton Community College’s Department of Student Life and Leadership includes several student organizations that offer students a year-long student leadership program. One of these, the Student Ambassadors, are primarily Federal Work-Study students. Ambassadors participate in a service-learning student leadership program in addition to receiving job-specific training. This includes participating in a one-credit class titled EDU 207: Beginning Leadership. The class was designed for student leaders and focuses on critical reflective thinking and personal and civic responsibility

Linn-Benton Community College

Ann-Marie Yacobucci,
Student Activities Coordinator
Department of Student Life and Leadership

About Linn-Benton

Linn-Benton Community College (LBCC) is located in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, two miles south of Albany, Oregon, and 11 miles east of Corvallis. LBCC ranks 5th out of the 17 community colleges in Oregon in terms of student enrollment. In 2005-2006, 23,821 individuals took at least one class at LBCC. Of these, 24% attended full time, 33% attended part time, and 43% were taking noncredit classes only.

Student Leadership Programs

LBCC’s Department of Student Life and Leadership includes several student organizations that offer students a year-long student leadership program. The Student Ambassadors, Associated Student Government, Student Programming Board, and Multicultural Center Program Assistants each provide distinctive services to the Linn-Benton student body, and often join forces to serve the greater community. All of the students, with the exception of the Student Ambassadors, earn tuition grants for their service. The Student Ambassador Program employs eight students, three of whom are part-time employees of the college. The remaining five positions are reserved for students paid through Federal Work-Study (FWS).

Students in Service

Student Life and Leadership’s Service-Learning program has evolved over time and changes to meet the unique needs of today’s community college students while striving to meet the identified needs of our community. Each term, we ask our student leaders to think critically about the role they play as engaged citizens within our community and to work collaboratively with community members though direct service, advocacy, and capacity building. In turn, students identify community needs and participate in efforts to meet those needs.

The amount of time required of student leaders is about 30 hours per term. At least half of the required time is spent on direct service, while the rest is for leadership training and programming responsibilities. Examples of service initiatives undertaken by the Student Ambassadors and other student leaders include the OXFAM Hunger Banquet, food drives for local food banks, working at local soup kitchens, activities in support of alternative community food resources, beach clean-ups, beautification projects at local schools, and developing a mentoring program with a local middle school.

Student Ambassadors

Through the Student Ambassador Program, students represent the college both on campus and in the community, gain valuable leadership skills, and experience the value of civic engagement. While working in the Student Contact Center, Ambassadors personally contact new, degree-seeking students every term. The purpose of the program is to provide information and support to new students to promote college success.

The Student Ambassadors also play a lead role in new student orientations. Ambassadors provide an informative presentation and campus tour to new students each term. This opportunity allows Ambassadors to be of assistance to new students while improving their public speaking skills. In addition, the Ambassadors lead general campus tours; visit high schools; staff information booths at local events; and plan projects to assist the college’s outreach, recruitment and retention efforts. Student Ambassadors know the college inside and out, and are a great resource for students and our community.

Civic engagement and service-learning are essential to the student leadership program at LBCC and have become an important focus of the Student Ambassador Program. Student Ambassadors plan and participate in community-based projects. Examples include “Into the Streets,” in which ambassadors lead student volunteers into the community to help address housing, hunger, and other issues; the “Project Pageturner” literacy program, in which local elementary school students are invited to the college for a story hour; and the “Day of Silence,” a student-led day of action for those who support making anti-LGBT bias unacceptable in schools.

Service-Learning Leadership Course

The Student Ambassadors’ service projects are not only a way for LBCC to give back to the local communities, but are also a great way for students to explore important social issues in a meaningful way. Building on the concept that community colleges should be fully integrated with the communities they serve, Ambassadors participate in a service-learning student leadership program in addition to receiving job-specific training.

Each term, the Student Ambassadors participate in a one-credit class titled EDU 207: Beginning Leadership. The class was designed for students involved in Student Life and Leadership, and focuses on critical reflective thinking, as well as personal and civic responsibility. Through participation in community service projects and related seminar activities, students gain the skills necessary to play a leadership role in the community.

Conclusion

Largely due to Federal Work-Study funding, the Student Ambassador Program has become an indispensable resource for the college and community. The Student Ambassadors contribute to their community, form beneficial relationships with peers and community members, and acquire vital leadership skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. As a result, we are creating leaders, building partnerships with community organizations, and increasing the public’s awareness of the programs and services provided by Linn-Benton Community College.

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