January 11, 2010
Sophomore Saira Husain traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, during summer 2009 to volunteer with the nonprofit Children’s Museum for Peace and Human Rights. She worked on a disability rights campaign, encouraging children to urge the government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Pakistan doesn’t have services for people with disabilities,” says Husain, a sophomore President’s Scholar from Southlake, Texas, who is majoring in biology and anthropology. “The children are so excited to learn they can help by collecting signatures.”
Husain was one of nine students awarded a stipend this summer as a Maguire and Irby Family Public Service Intern from SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. This fall at SMU, Husain has found other ways to serve, including with Habitat for Humanity.
“I’ve learned that all of our little steps together do take us closer to our larger goals,” she says. “Whatever career you pursue, you need to know your community’s needs.”
SMU offers students numerous opportunities to serve communities in North Texas and beyond. Through the Office of Leadership and Community Involvement (LCI), 2,500 students volunteer with more than 70 Dallas-area agencies every year, says director Carol Clyde.
“SMU tries to help students become leaders in a global society,” Clyde says. “Through service, students learn what it means to be part of a larger community, and the community benefits from their energy and skills.”
LCI matches students with organizations that need their help through SMU’s MustangTrak database. Students also serve the community through programs in their schools, Greek and student organizations and campus ministries.
Joe Cooper, a sophomore business major from Plano, Texas, and a forward on the men’s soccer team, partnered with student leaders at SMU Catholic Campus Ministry during spring 2009. Together they organized a ministry fundraiser and soccer clinic for children from Dallas’ Vickery Meadow neighborhood, home to thousands of international refugees.
“We originally were thinking just a few SMU soccer players would help, but the whole team wanted to participate,” he says.
After teaching 40 children from around the world about passing, dribbling and shooting, the team hopes to make the clinic an annual event, Cooper says. “The kids learned from our drills, but it was more about having fun,” he says, “and it’s a chance for us to give something back.”
Learn more at smu.edu/lci.
Opportunities to serve:
Service learning: In numerous courses, faculty connect coursework with community service.
SMU Service House: Community service is a requirement for the 28 students who live in this former fraternity house.
Academic Community Engagement (ACE) House: Four students live and work in this East Dallas house, where they and other SMU students tutor neighborhood children.
Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Citizenship (SPARC): Among this campus-sponsored program’s projects are Alternative Winter and Spring Break, which send students across the country to serve.
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