Office of Civic Engagement

Americorps’ Hager Helps Students Help Community

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A former student returns to Southwestern to help students engage in community service.

As a student at Southwestern, Jessica Hager felt she wasn’t able to do everything she wanted to. So after graduating in May, she decided to return to campus for another year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer.

Working out of Southwestern’s Civic Engagement Office, Hager now assists students who want to take on civic projects of their own.

“Mainly, I serve as a resource for students who want to contribute to their community but simply need a helping hand,” Hager says. “We talk about all the different options that are here, what they might like to do and how to get the ball rolling.”

Part of her job involves maintaining a database of the service opportunities available in the area. “Being part of your community, especially while you are in college, helps to make theory come alive,” Hager says. “It helps students see what their education can provide beyond academia.”

Hager notes that her office is about much more than just logging hours of community service, though. “We want to empower students to look at the reasons behind activism, social justice and volunteerism,” she says.

For Constitution Day on Sept. 17th, Hager worked with student political organizations and other student representatives to put on a forum about the upcoming presidential election. Now, she is working with students in the Civic Engagement/Green Hall to plan a forum in February that will showcase the civic achievements and service projects of social activists. “Students are doing things in the community all the time and I would love that to be visible,” Hager says.

Last year, Southwestern students contributed 15,602 community service hours to nearly 80 agencies.

Hager is not exactly sure about what she will do after her year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer ends, but she plans to travel the world and continue to promote active citizenship. “I would love to work in a hospital in India in their community program,” she says.