Giving Back: ATU Students Go Above and Beyond
BY SAM STRASNER
Nothing reveals the true heart and character of Arkansas Tech University like the community service performed by its students.
During the 2018-19 academic year, ATU students participated in volunteer activities that resulted in more than 15,870 hours of direct service, which is equivalent to a $349,137.43 monetary influence.
For many, like 2019 Jill Lestage Brown Service Leadership Award winner Sydney Stone of Clarksville, giving back is an extension of their academic experience.
“In sociology and psychology classes, we learned about the different strains and stresses in society…things that are causing crimes and disorders,” said Stone. “You take the things you are learning and you create something that fixes them. That’s what the hygiene drive and the pantry and all of that are aimed at…we’re fixing the issues that are causing larger issues. Now these kids are getting to stay in class. They’re getting their education. Then they’re going to go out and get a job, and hopefully they can create the change we tried to create here. It’s a big cycle. If you don’t provide for the little people, you don’t get to see it come full circle.”
Eduardo Medina has lived that circle. Once a beneficiary of a similar program in his hometown of Wickes, Medina contributed to a spring 2019 effort by ATU fraternity and sorority members to provide nourishing, easy to prepare meals for elementary students in the Russellville School District.
When the job was done, Medina and his fellow students had collected and delivered 40,123 food items to help children in need.
“When I heard about this opportunity to give back, it got me emotional because I don’t know the full situation of what the kids are facing here, but no matter what it is, they will appreciate it,” said Medina. “One day they’ll be standing here ready to give back. I see myself when I look into those little faces. I remember being in those shoes, being one of the recipients and being an advocate for my family.
“One day I will be at the forefront of donating to causes like this one,” continued Medina. “Whatever community I live in, if there’s not a program like this one I am going to start one. Backpack programs might start off small, but trust me, they branch off to become something larger than I can fathom.”
Green & Gold Give Back occurs annually.
One group of ATU students earned national acclaim for its community service efforts during the 2018-19 academic year.
ATU student-athletes completed 3,535 hours of community work during the fall 2018 semester. Twenty-three local non-profit organizations benefited from the service of Wonder Boys and Golden Suns.
Every student-athlete at ATU participated in the service, including more than 800 hours volunteering at local elementary schools, mentoring and reading to the students and creating food backpacks.
“The work of the Arkansas Tech student-athletes and coaches is to be commended,” said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president. “In addition to their studies and their athletic pursuits, these students give numerous hours of service to the local community. I am genuinely appreciative of their efforts to make our community and region a better place.”
Because of those efforts, Arkansas Tech had the most volunteer service among the more than 300 members of NCAA Division II in the United States and Canada. The NCAA recognized ATU as the 2018-19 NCAA Division II Team Works Helper Helper community service champion.
Those types of accolades are a bonus for the students of ATU as they continue striving to make a difference for their neighbors.
“You don’t do these things to get recognition,” said Stone. “It needed to be done, so I did it. But I will not lie. It is nice to be recognized for the work that you’ve put in, the time, the sweat, the tears and the blood. It’s nice to have people recognize that and appreciate it.”