In the Fall of 2016, C2C at UT began with a class entitled Learning to Lead taught by Toledo City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb. This cohort of 24 students were able to explore what leadership looks like in a community through guest speakers, literature, and trips around Toledo. For example, partnering with the Toledo Museum of Art, students were inroduced to the cultural communities in Toledo by analyzing murals. Another trip included collaborating with the Neighborhood Health Association to learn about one of Toledo’s low cost health centers. The students heard from professionals who faced adversity and hardships before they began their current positions. Both of these trips aided in the completion of their final assignment; Story of Self. This assignment asked the students to reflect on their story and why they decided to attend college. Their reasons varied, but they all wanted to attend UT to better themselves and have a successful future.
One concern on UT’s campus is the retention and graduation rates among Pell Grant eligible students. According to institutional research, a Fall 2009 cohort of Pell Grant recipients had a 29.04% 6 year graduation rate in 2015. With 5,882 Pell Grants awarded for 2014-2015, it became imperative that C2C address any underlying issues. As a result of the rising cost of tuition, financial needs was at the top of the list. In one instance, a C2C student was in danger of not returning for spring semester if they did not pay the remaining balance on their bill. After contacting Autumn, they were able to locate a scholarship that the student qualified for. The student was granted the scholarship and able to stay registered for classes. Autumn has encouraged all C2C students to reach out to a faculty/staff member or herself if a problem such as this one were to ever arise.
Connect2Complete has left a lasting impact on the campus of the University of Toledo. Not only has it helped students with referals to resources on and off campus, but it has led to conversations regarding civic engagement. C2C has shown administrators areas that require improvement and how the university can better serve its students. Support of more service learning opportunities and the development of an Office of Civic Engagement are just a few of the ideas that have surfaced. For the future of C2C, UT would like to strengthen the peer advocacy component, expand service opportunities, and develop C2C to its full potential.
Autumn became an AmeriCorps VISTA with Connect2Complete because she enjoys assisting underrepresented students with a similar background to hers. She believes everyone should have access to higher education and the tools to succeed while they are at these insitutions. Her work as a VISTA has led her to pursue a career in the public sector to tackle the issues affecting marginalized groups in college.
Written by Autumn Mitchell.
View Autumn's bio.
#Connect2Complete #communityservice #civicengagement #communityengagement #VISTA #volunteer #firstgen