Students create sculptures from donated non-perishables as part of the CANstruction food drive.
Whether through classes, student organizations, volunteer events or even starting small businesses, UNT students have numerous opportunities and resources across campus to create a positive impact on their community. Students, faculty and staff find creative ways to empower one another to work together to improve UNT, the North Texas region and the world.
When Heather Quinn enrolled in a civic engagement course last fall, she didn’t know she’d help raise nearly $20,000 for organizations working to end hunger.
The course, PACS 3000 – Community and Public Service, covers the philosophy and practice of community and public service, and examines the many challenges faced in educating the public about social issues and how to engage people to make a difference.
"By the end of the class, what I learned, what everyone learned, was that if you start with yourself and start working a little bit at a time, you can make a difference," Quinn says. "It was amazing to see what our small class did, and it did make a difference. We all realized that just starting with ourselves we can change issues we see in the world."
One student organized a car wash, another wore his military uniform and spoke to strangers about donating to feed hungry veterans, others met with corporations to ask for donations, and in the end almost $20,000 went to the North Texas Food Bank, the Veterans Association Red Cross, the Ashbury Relief Ministry, the Denton Bible Cattle Ministry and SOS Children’s Villages USA, says College of Public Affairs and Community Service Professor Brenda McCoy, who teaches one section of PACS 3000.
"Students really held each other accountable, applied themselves to the issue, came up with creative marketing ideas, and blew us away with what they accomplished," McCoy says.
April Fehler teaches another PACS 3000 section, and says she was humbled to see how students expanded their boundaries and worked hard to make a difference.
"What I’ve learned in teaching this course is that our students are eager to work on solutions for social issues like hunger, we just have to give them the classroom knowledge and then step out of their way," Fehler says.
Students in the Spring 2012 course sections are already planning their fundraising strategies, and hope to beat last semester’s total donation, McCoy says.
Center for Leadership and Service
UNT’s Center for Leadership and Service organizes events, programs, workshops and other opportunities for students to get involved on campus and learn how to make a difference, including alternative spring break trips, blood drives, large days of service and adopt-a-block programs.
"The Center for Leadership and Service gets students together with meaningful community service and volunteer opportunities all year long," says Kirsten Bishop, leadership coordinator in the center. "Students interested in helping the community can volunteer with us in whatever way works best within their schedules. Our commitment is to empower students to make a difference in their community through service."
The center also works with partner organizations in the community to connect volunteers with service projects, and has numerous leadership opportunities for students. Students can join Leadership Impact Boards to plan events on campus, or participate in the VolUNTeer League by organizing community service and social action projects.
Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship
Since 1999, the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship has been offering UNT students opportunities to learn about opening businesses and to participate in various competitions for start-up funding. While the center is housed in the College of Business, all UNT students can participate in the center’s programs.
One of the center’s competitions, the New Venture Creation Contest, has awarded thousands of dollars in funding to help establish student-run businesses, including a non-profit tutoring business, a gourmet cupcake bakery, an automotive performance shop, and an independent brewery.
Forward Tutoring, an internet-based nonprofit, provides free one-on-one online tutoring, a student-oriented volunteer opportunity database, and scholarship listings. The venture won the first place $25,000 prize in the 2011 New Venture Creation Contest.
Forward Tutoring was created by students in UNT’s Texas Academy of Math and Science and works in collaboration with local businesses, organizations and talented students. The business was inspired by experiences students had seeing peers and family members struggle to stay afloat in school. They also recognized the need for a system to make volunteering easier, said co-founder David Chi.
"As opposed to having students pay for tutoring with money, we empower them to pay it forward with volunteer hours," Chi said. "Forward Tutoring is a platform where learning and serving come full circle, and we're excited to lead the way in increasing academic success and promoting youth involvement in communities nationwide."
Along with opportunities for students to find funding for businesses, the Murphy Center also helps students become independent, Director Tony Mendes says.
"The New Venture Creation Contest is an example of the tremendous opportunities available for UNT students who want to be in control of their own destiny," Mendes says. "The job market is tough out there, and resources at the Murphy Center can help students build skills for their future."
Student organizations range from academic honors societies to ceramics enthusiasts, and include groups dedicated to athletics, leadership, community service and different cultures around the world
"Volunteering and campus involvement helps students see their experience in college as much larger than themselves," said Dean of Students Maureen McGuinness. "Community service also helps each of us see areas we can impact by giving our time and dedication to a cause; our experiences and leadership opportunities also help us see what we can change for the greater good of the community. UNT students are very selfless in contributing to service projects that open their hearts and touch the lives of those they serve. It’s a great way to enhance your college education and character development."
If you’re interested in preserving heirloom plant species, volunteering your musical talents organizing a concert for senior citizens, donating books to low-income children in Denton, or serving as a member of UNT’s Student Government Association, there are opportunities at UNT for you to help with those pursuits and many more.