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Released January 29, 2004

SOUTHERN MISS CONTRIBUTES MORE THAN 14,000 HOURS OF
SERVICE LEARNING TO THE HATTIESBURG AREA IN FALL 2003
By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - Like most other University of Southern Mississippi students, Jessica Wilson of Bay Springs came to the Hattiesburg campus to work on a degree, make new friends and take part in the many activities unique to the college experience.

But she also discovered in herself a talent for helping others because of the opportunities presented by the Southern Miss Office of Community Service Learning. Through service to others, Wilson, now a speech communication graduate student, has gained a new perspective that complements her academic program.

"It made me more well-rounded and helped me to see the diversity we have at Southern Miss as well as in the Hattiesburg community," she said. "Service-learning gave me a chance to help others who aren't as fortunate as myself, and to possibly inspire a young child to pursue a college education after high school."

Wilson is just one of many Southern Miss students, faculty and staff who have contributed much time and energy to the community through service-learning and volunteerism. For the fall 2003 semester, students, faculty, staff, and administration contributed 14,953 hours to the Hattiesburg community. The number reflects hours recorded through the Office of Community Service Learning. More hours are also served on the campus. For 2002-2003, OCSL recorded 28,000 volunteer service hours by faculty, staff, students and administration.

According to www.independentsector.org, one hour of volunteer service is worth $16.54. Therefore, Southern Miss contributed an equivalent of $247,322.62 through voluntary service hours.

Many Southern Miss faculty members incorporate service-learning in their courses, giving students opportunities to apply academic theory to their community service projects.

"Service-learning engages students in hands-on learning both inside and outside the classroom. Students pose an issue in the community in relation to their class objectives," said Hunter Phillips, assistant director for the Office of Community Service Learning. "They wrestle with the challenge in light of their academic study and reach a potential solution. Students, faculty, and community partnerships create a ripple effect that never ends."

The Office of Community Service Learning sponsors at least one campus-wide service day/week per month. In the fall semester, the first-year service plunge, female recruitment service day, and male recruitment service day, Make a Difference Week, and National Volunteer Week generated 3,807 service hours to local nonprofit organizations. Though it cannot be quantified in service hours, 150 Salvation Army angels were adopted on campus through OCSL's Salvation Army Angel Tree in the R.C. Cook Union.

"The Hattiesburg nonprofit sector considers our students and services a valuable component of their work and programs," Phillips said. "We look forward to a 2004 full of continued growth and service, and measured contribution to our community."

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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