When I first learned about the Community Partner Speed Networking event I was not sure how helpful it was going to be or what to really expect. I mean the first thought when hearing “speed date”, did not bring up warm and fuzzy thoughts. I can only tell you how wrong my impressions of this event were. It proved to be an exceptional experience that has benefited me in many ways.
To give you a little background on me and how all this came about. I have been involved in some kind of service activity for most all of my life. This was something my mother felt was very important and made sure we were involved in. At first it was the old “Do I have to?” as I got older my view has changed to service being something I enjoy and value. So when I first found out about the Civically Engaged Scholars program it felt like a natural fit. I was even more excited that the program I was enrolled in at SLCC had a specific track that was built to work with the Civically Engaged Scholars. This meant that participating and passing many of my classes would meet the needed requirements to be a Civically Engaged Scholar. One of these major requirements was the service hours. At the time I was working with Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA), but with the demands of school and the passing of my canine team member, I needed a change, I was just not sure what I wanted to change to. A few months later I got an email from Brandon Devlin telling us that he was the new contact for the Engaged Scholars. He informed us some changes were happing in the program and we would need to attend a cohort meeting to get the new information and so he could meet all of us. It was at the bottom of this email that he wanted to tell us about the Community Partner Speed Networking Workshop. It was in three days and I thought this will be a good opportunity for me. When I looked at my calendar, I saw that I could make the time but it would be tight. As time got closer I was less and less excited to attend, only because I was worn out from the previous days and I still had more to come. When the time came to actually go all I could think about was, this is not required; I have plenty of other places to volunteer; I can use this time to get caught up on home work instead. The last thought was this could be a really good opportunity and I don’t know if it will come around again. I mustered up the resolve and headed out. This turned out to be a great decision on my part.
I arrived at the collage and was having trouble finding a parking spot. I started to worry that I was going to be late, as I quickly walked through the building looking for the room. I passed the sign for the event and quickly checked to make sure it was the room and went in. I was not really sure what I was getting into. I walked into the room my first thought was I am in the wrong place, I walked out of the room and checked the sign outside the door again. It was the right place. I was taken back at first because nothing there was what I expected. They had a small table set up with refreshments and this time someone was able to greet me and help direct me and get me a name tag. I got all settled in and ready for the event to start. I looked around for other students and I did not see very many. I was a little nervous thinking that I misunderstood the event. In short time the program started, we introduced ourselves and what we were there for. That is when I realized how many community partners were there and they outnumbered the students. The time came to meet with the different partners, as I was getting ready to rush and meet with the partners I had put on my list people started to come to me and wanted to talk to me. This was a very different experience than what I have had at similar events at larger University level schools. Most of those for me are where you are standing at a table trying to ask a question with many other people. Often times it is someone who tells you that if you put your email on the list someone will get back to you. This event was the complete opposite, the groups were coming to me and the people I was working with had answers to every question I could think of. I could not even meet with all the groups I wanted to as my time was running short and I had to be somewhere else. I collected all my information that had been given to me and packed up my stuff to head out.
As I was leaving the event all I could think about was how I hear people tell me how much better the bigger four-year schools are than SLCC, because these schools have better resources and better classes. I always ask if they get better experience in a class of over a hundred vs thirty at SLCC. As for better recourses I tell them they are not looking very hard, almost everything you have at other schools you can find at SLCC. The Community Partner Speed Networking is a perfect example of the resources available. I got to meet with the same community partners any other school works with. I got to do it in a much more personal and meaningful environment than students at other schools get. I was very happy that I came to this event. It turned out to be very different than what I was expecting. This event proved to be just as good as many other experiences I have had at SLCC. I will say that more of them are great experiences than bad ones. Whenever I have needed help or questions answered I feel like I am one of ten not one of a thousand. I feel lot of it comes back to the great faculty support. I strongly encourage anyone that is thinking about getting involved just do it- you won’t be disappointed.
By Chad Johnson, Civically Engaged Scholar