A Commitment to Service

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More than 350 UGA students participated in IMPACT service breaks last week and their projects included volunteering at the Mustard Seed, a non-profit in Mississippi that serves people with developmental disabilities.

Our students’ commitment to making a difference in communities in Georgia and beyond was on display over spring break, when hundreds volunteered their time off to lift others up through service.

More than 350 students participated in IMPACT service breaks, which are overseen by the Center for Leadership and Service in our Division of Student Affairs. Students helped build a Habitat for Humanity house in North Carolina, volunteered at a non-profit organization that serves people with developmental disabilities in Mississippi and learned about veterans’ issues in Baltimore, among many other projects.

Closer to home, our students support local agencies such as Action Ministries, Extra Special People and the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia through Serve Athens, an initiative that involves 40 student organizations that embrace advocacy, philanthropy or service as one of their primary purposes.

The University’s largest student-run philanthropy, UGA Miracle, recently set an extraordinary record that will benefit children throughout the region for years to come. Through a series of events that culminated in the annual Dance Marathon, our students raised an astonishing $1.3 million for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Greek Life organizations were responsible for nearly $1 million of this year’s total, and UGA Miracle has raised $3 million for Children’s Healthcare over the past three years alone.

Students come to the University of Georgia because they want to make a difference—in their careers and in their communities. Through service-learning, they combine academic coursework with hands-on projects such as tutoring at-risk children, alleviating hunger among senior citizens and creating economic and community development plans. Our faculty members offered nearly 450 course sections with a service-learning component last year, and the total enrollment for these courses exceeded 8,200. Enrollment in service-learning courses has increased by more than 30 percent over the past three years, which speaks to the high level of community engagement among our student body.

The charter that in 1785 established the University of Georgia as the birthplace of public higher education in America referred to the state’s “obligation to form the youth, the rising hope of our land, to render … glorious and essential services to our country.” Those words were written nine years after the Declaration of Independence and two and a half years before the Constitution of the United States, and they still ring true today. Our students truly are the rising hope of our land, and their dedication to serving others gives me reason to be very optimistic about the future of our state and nation.