SERVE (Students Engaging and Responding through Volunteer Experiences), a signature program of the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships (CSECP), is focused on creating an environment for first-year students that fosters personal and civic growth. While studying community development and social change theory, SERVE students are also engaged in a variety of service experiences, including group service projects, local hunger relief agencies, and routine individual volunteerism. Given both theoretical context and shared engagement experience as a common ground, students discuss and reflect during class, online, and through written reflections in an attempt to blur lines between the academic, social, and civic realms.
SERVE is housed within Pritchard Hall though SERVE students quickly find themselves calling the beautiful New River Valley their home as they volunteer throughout the region surrounding Virginia Tech.
"Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them" -Greg Mortensen, humanitarian and activist
Students in SERVE take special sections of the Exploring Citizen Leadership, LDRS 1015-1016, curriculum similar to students within the Residential Leadership Community.
The fall LDRS 1015 course for the SERVE program is a three-credit hour discussion-based course focused on the concept of community development, servant leadership, and social change, while also encouraging students to explore individual motivations to serve others. As part of this course, students engage in a variety of group and individual volunteer experiences, while reflecting upon those learning opportunities.
The spring LDRS 1016 course is a mixed cohort of SERVE and RLC students where students put theory to practice by honing leadership competencies within a service setting. Students facilitate dialogue among their peers, lead and reflect on group service experiences, and put together a comprehensive ePortfolio of the yearlong experience.
Students interested in continuing in the program beyond the first-year community have the opportunity to serve in leadership roles within SERVE and pursue the Leadership and Social Change minor. Leadership opportunities include mentoring first-year SERVE students, facilitating courses, and leading service immersion experiences during academic breaks.