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Center for Community Engagement

Citizen Scholars FAQ

What counts as service hours? 
The most common way to serve is by volunteering with a community organization (e.g. coaching, tutoring, mentoring, helping at nonprofit events, working at food pantries, schools, nursing homes, etc.). Work done for for-profit businesses or activities that only benefit a church do not count, and hours are never awarded for donations or items. Students may earn one hour per animal per day for fostering or doing a day out with an animal from the animal shelter. Additional details here.

How do I report service hours? 
Log in to Get Connected ( by using the orange USM student button and click “Report Service Hours." You can also check in/check out at service events but they have to be listed on Get Connected and you have to sign up for them first. When you report hours, be sure to select Citizen Scholars as one of your User Groups. Here's a video on how to Report Service Hours

What are considered community-engaged learning experiences?

  • Academic Service-Learning Classes are registered with the CCE office. A list of ASL classes is available online. In these classes, a service component (project or community placement) of at least 15 hours helps students attain course objectives, meets a community-identified need, and involves structured reflection on the service. You can also propose a ASL Track to any class. 
  • Approved Non-Profit Internships or Practicums allow students to gain career or skill knowledge over the duration of a semester through site placement under the guidance of a qualified individual. To count toward the Citizen Scholars requirement, internships or practicums must be with nonprofit, community, or governmental organizations, PK- 12 schools, or the philanthropic arm of a for-profit organization. 
  • Approved Service Immersion Experience involve travel to diverse communities around the country and world where students work on meaningful service projects and discover new cultures and traditions. To qualify as a Citizen Scholar experience, service cannot be simply ministry or spreading religious doctrine. 
  • Approved Community Engaged Research is a significant experience carried out over at least one semester in which students produce research or a project that is beneficial to a community organization or the public good. This cannot be a group project. 
    • Examples:
    • Symbiotic Relationships: Exploring Teacher Education at the Nexus of Science and Society Through Service-Learning & Community-Based Research, Abigail Launius (mentor: Maria Wallace). 
      • To cultivate a deeper understanding of … symbiotic relationships representing a cross-section of science education, teacher preparation, and society, we have collected data from participants who are pre-service teachers in a service-learning experience with the Hattiesburg Zoo. The participants taught visitors at the Hattiesburg Zoo by working alongside zoo animals and educators as educational docents. We gathered data for these participants through semi-structured interviews, course assignments, and reflections on their experiences. Our analysis suggests several cross-cutting themes related to our pre-service teacher participants: (a) positive STEM identity development; (b) ability to engage learners from diverse backgrounds; (c) motivation by reflective writing exercises to learn more about how they can use inquiry-based science practices, knowledge, and manipulatives in their future classrooms. These themes have the potential to impact teacher education curricula, practices, and experiences to provide preparation experiences that foster culturally-relevant pedagogies–for both teacher candidates and their future students.
    • The Educational Quality in Juvenile Facilities: The Impacts of Reentry to the Public - School System, Jasmine Plummer (mentor:  Kari Kozlowski)
      • [This study examined] the quality of education youth receive from learning materials in detention centers … by assessing youths’ learning material and tools to see how they are incorporated into their leaning environment to promote academic success. Using semi- structured qualitative interviewing, one general education teacher and one inclusion education teacher who work in a juvenile facility in Mississippi were interviewed … The following themes emerged; academic development versus academic readiness, engagement, career and character education, and teacher’s perception of students. These findings have implications for how youths’ learning environment are structured to challenge their academic needs. The findings also give clarity to how the learning materials could negatively or positively impact youth’s academic success rate upon reentering into public-school system.
    • Movement as a Way of Knowing the Earth, Brittany Tolbert (mentor: Candice Salyers)
      • [This research] aims to not only build awareness for individuals about the impact humans have on the climate crisis but also aims to inspire change in the way in which humans utilize movement practices to grow towards eco-friendly change in the throes of daily life. As a discourse in conversation with artists and thinkers like Susan Bauer, the Bcollective, Martha Eddy, Sondra Fraleigh, and Kimerer LaMothe, this chapter focuses on “bodily becoming” and embodiment within ecosomatic movement practice to explore what the phenomenon of ecological movement experience provides as an approach to healing the relationship between people and the Earth. Acknowledging the power movement has to be the progenitor of a larger environmental consciousness, the author defines for the reader her meanings of embodied movement and "bodily becoming" in relation to ecosomatic movement practice as an existing approach to developing an eco-friendly change of perspective on the individual level. This paper takes the subjective idea of dance and molds it to refer to the basic, natural existence of movement in the human experience, capable of inciting change and catalyzing a process of healing through a specific ecosomatic approach.
    • Women's Addiction and Recovery Experiences, Amy Brogan (mentor: Michelle McLeese)
      • The purpose of this study was to identify factors that led women into addiction recovery and examined their current experiences during the recovery process. Using primarily a qualitative analysis from open-ended questions asking about addiction, recovery, and the recovery experience, 20 women in residential treatment were surveyed using the online program Qualtrics; open-ended data were coded using NVivo software. Results indicated a relationship between addiction and prior experiences of trauma as well as other environmental factors. Furthermore, the data suggested a relationship between confidence and relapse. Consequently, this kind of research is important not only for practitioners but for individuals completing recovery and re-integrating into society.
  • Approved Community-Engaged Honors Thesis is an Honors Thesis which meets the requirements of the Southern Miss Honors College and is conducted through collaboration with a community-based organization. The collected information and/or created project must benefit members of an underserved group, a community organization, or the public good.
  • Approved Community-Engaged Leadership Project: Students who conduct a community-engaged leadership project will be expected to identify, plan and carry out solutions to problems within their school, community and beyond. Projects should have defined outcomes, timelines, and an identified community/school collaborator. Projects should be action-oriented with a clear value to the community upon its completion. 

How do I know if my community engaged learning experience will count? 
Email us at cceFREEMississippi with information about your experience and we will let you know ASAP if it counts. 

Where can I find community-engaged learning experiences to complete?

How do I report my community-engaged learning experiences to the program?
You will need to submit this form every time you complete an experience. This is how we will track your completion of program requirements.  

How do I propose an ASL Track to my class? 
This is for students who make special arrangements with their professors to add a service-learning component to a class that is not already designated as ASL. Prior to the Add/Drop Date of your course, both you and your professor must complete the service-learning track contract, which outlines :

  • How many service hours you will complete over the semester
  • How service relates to course learning objectives
  • What type of reflection component you will submit upon completion
  • What grade you must earn to receive the service-learning credit

Once completed, email the form to cceFREEMississippi, drop by 116 Harkins Hall, or mail to Box 5211.

How long do I have to complete the Citizen Scholar requirements?
With the exception of the Honors Thesis, all requirements must be complete with documentation submitted by the end of the semester prior to your graduating semester. Students completing a community-engaged Honors Thesis may submit during their final undertraduate semester. Reflective exit interviews will take place during students' final semesters. 

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Center for Community Engagement
116 Harkins Hall
118 College Dr. #5211

Hattiesburg Campus

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