Students incorporate service, school

Elmhurst, IL

Along with moving in, learning the campus and meeting new friends, about 540 first-year students at Elmhurst College also found time this week to pack 115,000 meals for hungry children throughout the world.

The students spent Thursday 8/26 morning packing one-cup meals for Feed My Starving Children, a Christian organization that sent 96 million meals containing rice, dehydrated vegetables, soy nuggets, and 20 vitamins and minerals to needy children last year.

This is the third year new students have participated in a service project as part of “Big Questions,” the college’s values-based orientation, developed by Dean of Students Eileen Sullivan.

“The new academic year brings so much excitement with it,” Sullivan said. “It’s truly my favorite time of year, better than Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa combined.”

Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Success Desiree Collado said the service project helps students connect during their first week on campus.

“It gives them a better understanding of poverty and how one person can impact that in a positive way,” she said.

There may be an effect in the classroom too. Sullivan said students who participated in the Big Questions orientation program in 2008 generated a higher average GPA, more credit hours, and a better retention rate.

Dean Sprang, a first-year education major from Wood Dale, said he chose Elmhurst College because it was the most “family-like” college he considered. He said participating in the service project was personally rewarding and packing meals proved a good way to meet people while adjusting to college life.

“It feels motivating,” he said.

Tiffany Tatsumi, a first-year student from Hoffman Estates, also liked the project’s social aspect.

“I love it here,” she said. “It’s a good sense of a community. ... Hopefully I’m going to find what I’m going to do, meet some people and make friendships that last forever.”