ASU Honor Students Help Selma Community as Part of Giving Back Initiative
On Saturday, Oct. 22, more than 45 students in the W.E.B. Du Bois Honors program headed to Selma, Alabama, to continue Alabama State University’s long history of service.
Through the W.E.B. Du Bois Honors Program Global Leadership Initiative, the honors students helped with a clean up project in the Selma community, mentored junior and senior students in STEM and Social Science Education, and performed other outreach services, all key factors in the community service projects the honors program has established with Alabama’s four Black Belt counties (Dallas, Montgomery, Wilcox and Lowndes). The honors students are required to undertake two community service projects in both the spring and fall semesters.
“We are so excited to offer this service-learning opportunity because it really helps set the tone for their college careers,” said Denise Roy, administrative assistant in the honors program. “These projects help students to learn about community engagement and the importance of giving back to the community.”
Selma Councilwoman Lesia James and other Selma City Council members helped to coordinate the University’s efforts.
“We would also like to give special thanks to the ASU Foundation for supporting the honors program endeavors,” Roy said.
During the clean-up, students took a walk in history. They met with one of the original foot soldiers of the Civil Rights/Voting Rights Movement, 96-year-old George Sallie, who is one of the civil rights marchers that were brutally beaten by law enforcement officers on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965, known as “Bloody Sunday.” The students also walked across the National Historic Landmark.
“This community service event was a great experience. Growing up in Zimbabwe …we had a strong sense of community. So, I had a passion for…learning from others in the community. This event allowed me to learn from civil rights foot soldier Mr. Sallie…about his fight for freedom, about the actual events on the Pettus Bridge,” said sophomore Anna Havatidi. “I also learned about the importance of working as a team and giving back to the community.”
Dr. Ram Alagan, director of the honors program, said the initiative is important because it empowers students to see what they can accomplish.
“We hope it will encourage them to continue to work within their communities, not only during their college years, but throughout their lives,” Alagan said. “We believe in combining education and community service by educating the mind as well as educating the heart.”
The honors students will finish the fall semester with community service projects in Montgomery County in November by helping the Family Sunshine Center, the Montgomery Area Food Bank and conducting a tutorial service for one of the community centers.
“Our students are seeing the effects of socio-economic disparities in our communities and are discovering ways to create change in the community,” Alagan added.