VT Engage: The Community Learning Collaborative announced that the SERVE (Students Engaging and Responding through Volunteer Experiences) living learning community was recently recognized with two awards from higher education institutions for its high quality programming for first-year Virginia Tech students.

The program was recognized with the Best Practices Award from the Dalton Institute, which is given to a program that develops student values, integrity-based learning, and civic education, and the Bronze Certificate under the categories of Careers, Academic Advising and Support, Service-Learning, Community Service given by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.  

The awards emphasize the innovative curriculum and focus on civic responsibility and personal growth that embody SERVE’s program.

The honors come three years after SERVE’s founding. The living learning community, led by Jake Grohs, associate director for student engagement and SERVE faculty advisor, began as a pilot program in 2009 in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Residence Life.  Since it’s inception more Virginia Tech departments have partnered with the community, fostering growth and innovative program development. 

Students involved with SERVE say they find a place where they feel welcome, challenged, and valued. SERVE has maintained participation of its alumni by creating leadership opportunities that support continued personal growth.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of the SERVE community,” says Gary Kirk, director of VT Engage. “The level of dedication that I've seen from the student leaders and from the community's faculty advisor, Jake Grohs, is remarkable. This program highlights the benefits of using purposeful pedagogy to create effective community change.”

SERVE mentor and intern Analise Adams of Blacksburg, Va., a senior double majoring in human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and psychology in the College of Science, assisted in the application for the Dalton Institute award.  Adams described SERVE as an organization that “creates[s] meaningful experiences that encourage reflection and continued action.”  

Adams attended the Dalton Institute award ceremony with senior Ryan Brock of Roanoke, Va., a senior in psychology in the College of Science and Jake Grohs,.   

“The most exciting part of these awards for the SERVE LLC is that it celebrates the incredible initiative and commitment of so many [Virginia Tech] students as they seek to learn and grow through service,” says Grohs.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Contributions from Audrey Semel of Zelienople, Pa., a freshmen in biological sciences in the College of Science.
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