Berke and Sanborn, who work for The Federal Corporation for National and Community Service's Americorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, will assist with the advancement and implementation of The USD's mission to connect students with their community through the Interdisciplinary Education and Action (IdEA) program and other venues by addressing concerns of those in poverty and other challenged communities.
Berke, a New York City, NY, native, recently graduated from Cornell University with a degree in government. Sanborn, a Windham, CT, native, graduated in May from Lyndon State College in Vermont after studying recreation resource management.
Both Berke and Sanborn will help identify community agencies that need assistance and connect those agencies with students engaged in a service-learning component of the IdEA program and other programs such as alternative spring breaks and events of service. They will focus on developing service-learning opportunities in low-income, rural areas in Vermillion and surrounding communities.
"We are thrilled to have Alex and Jon on board with us here at USD," said Sarah Hirsch Wittmuss, associate director of the IdEA program and Student Action Office supervisor. "Their skills and experiences bode well for their ability to connect university and community resources and to engage our students in addressing social concerns."
The University of South Dakota's partnership with The Federal Corporation for National and Community Service has been successful in linking students with communities that are in need around them. Since July 2003, students in the IdEA program have engaged in over 27,000 hours of community service learning, creative activity, and research in Vermillion, students' home towns, in other states and abroad.
USD also serves through the corporation as a supervising entity for similar VISTA programs at South Dakota State University, Mt. Marty College, and Black Hills State University.
The Student Action Office was created as a central point of contact for students to find experiential learning information, as well as information about service learning, undergraduate research, and off-campus academic experiences. It serves as a place where faculty can receive support for integrating service learning and other experiential activities into their courses and is located in Old Main, Room 103.