The following story first appeared on The Daily Campus.
SMU’s Maguire Center helps students build better communities
Yolonda Battle, The Daily Campus, February 19 2012
For most college students, deciding to volunteer and give back to the community can be overwhelming in the context of demanding student schedules. But, for many, the effort is worth the reward.
"I was surprised at how I too had grown," Kelly Vowell, a 2011 Maguire Center Intern and Meadows graduate student, said. "It gave me several opportunities to learn patience and versatility. They instilled in me a deeper sense of compassion for others."
How do students like Vowell find the time? And where do they learn where to volunteer?
They visit the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility.
"Our hope is for students to model ethical behavior and public responsibility," Maguire Center's Assistant Director Candy Crespo, an SMU alumna, said.
"It's our responsibility to give back. We're all in this together."
For nearly 16 years, the Maguire Center has lived out its mission to expose undergraduate and graduate students to organizations that will allow them to live out their ethical beliefs through public service.
To further their efforts and influence students to serve communities of their choice, the center offers a paid summer internship.
"We choose to recognize students that devote themselves to public service or research in ethics," said Crespo. "We want students to be aware of the opportunities and access we have available."
Dr. Rita Kirk, director of the Maguire Center, is touched by the role public service has played in her life. Kirk understands how busy students are and how difficult it is for some to look beyond college.
But, for Kirk, the experience is worth it.
"I'm always amazed at how you start out doing things for one reason and a different thing results," Kirk said. "We never know how we truly impact others when we start serving, but for me the change was profound."
Vowell, a graduate student in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, agrees with Kirk.
She knows her experiences at the West Dallas Community School – teaching piano lessons to underprivileged students – cultivated her drive for service.
"I applied for the internship because I wanted to put into practice the skills I am acquiring," Vowell said. "Many of these students receive little to no reinforcement at home. I am determined to do my best to make sure they continue to receive lessons."
This passion and drive for ethics and public service is the message the Maguire Center is hoping to spread throughout the campus.
Since 1996, approximately 130 internships have been awarded to undergraduate and graduate students hoping to impact the lives of others.
For many public service organizations, the ability to fund an internship or hire new staff is limited.
The Maguire Center hopes that by offering paid summer internships students will jump at the opportunity to work for organizations that uphold their ethical standards, career objectives and provides them experience in the workforce.
For 2011 Maguire Center intern Laura Oei, a graduate in counseling, the internship is a great way to put into practice the things she learns in the class.
While interning for the Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County, she was able to continue learning how to serve the population of people she plans to work with after graduation.
"The internship allowed me to further my commitment to families in the area," Oei said.
The CACCC mission aligned with her beliefs, "to bring safety, healing and justice" to all families.
Oei believes students should consider the internship.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for students to extend their knowledge to the community in an effort to make a difference," Oei said.
During the school year, the Maguire Center hosts a number of speakers and events.