Campus News Georgia Impact

Student scholars learn about public service from inside out

Each year, 10 undergraduates are selected to participate in the PSO Student Scholars Program. Administered through the Office of Service-Learning, the yearlong program provides students with the opportunity to learn about UGA’s public service and outreach mission.

The 2011-2012 student scholars are Lauren Anderson, Carl Vinson Institute of Government; Uzma Chowdhury, Fanning Institute; Douglas Hernandez, State Botanical Garden; Madison Lamar, Archway Partnership; Katie Beth Lusk, Office of Service-Learning; Amelia Marable, UGA Center for Continuing Education; Cara Murray, Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach; Matt Passarello, Fanning Institute; and Amy Wong, Marine Extension.

“Although public service and outreach is an integral part of UGA’s mission, it is an area that few undergraduates routinely learn about,” said Paul Matthews, assistant director for the Office of Service-Learning.

The program introduces students to key areas of PSO and UGA’s land-grant mission through group meetings and site visits in the fall semester, and through a 150-hour internship in one of the eight PSO units in the spring semester. The goal is to provide students with a deeper understanding of PSO’s mission through meetings and supervised outreach, help them link these experiences with their career and educational goals and to create a community of student scholars who understand the role of university outreach and engagement.

“Unfortunately, many students never see past campus and downtown,” said Matthews. “Through programs like the PSO Student Scholars Program, we have the potential to significantly expand and enrich the student experience as well as show them what UGA is doing to impact the entire state and beyond.”

Program evaluation shows that students who take part in the program demonstrate a deeper understanding of UGA’s outreach units and activities and its land-grant mission of service to the state.

“Working in my internship and in the scholars program, I’ve learned so much about how UGA serves not only Athens, but the entire state of Georgia,” said Murray, an international affairs and Spanish double major, who interned in the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. “It’s really influenced me in how I want to get involved in community service, not only in my local community, but also on a larger, broader scale.”

“It is important that we continue to find new and exciting ways to engage students in the work of PSO through programs like the Student Scholars Program,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach. “Educating the next generation of leaders is a critical component of UGA’s mission. We believe these experiences and professional development opportunities give students an understanding of some of the ways they can improve the state.”