Oregon State’s engineering program has a reputation of being all work and no play. The intensive course work occupies a lot of time, and often finding time to commit to extracurricular activities, organizations and community service can be a challenge. What are the added benefits to them? I could understand how organizations may help me professionally, but how can community service benefit anyone? As I sat down with Environmental Engineering President, Stephanie Rich, and President Elect, Jenny Green, of the student organization of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering (CBEE), their insights to being involved demonstrated that engaging in both their professional network and community brings learning beyond the classroom.
CBEE has been an active student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers since its founding in 2010 at Oregon State University (OSU). Since then they have been actively participating in their regional and national conferences every year, focusing on their professional development and networking. It is through this network of opportunities that members of CBEE can contribute to the many outreach programs at OSU, such as the Winter Wonderings, Discovery Day, and S.E.S.E.Y.. The outreach programs offer hands on experiments to local K-12 schools, such as testing absorbent polymers in diapers to creating sodium alginate gel beads. Rich quotes, “if we can teach the kids about science then we can teach each other.” Most importantly these programs not only encourage kids to go to college but also pursue stem related careers. S.E.S.E.Y. for example, is a summer program for high school girls and minorities who are traditionally under-represented in science and engineering. This week long opportunity provides experimentation in labs to learn more about research and science. Rich says, “Being involved in these events helps us build community within our organization.”
But wait, there’s more! CBEE has a history in being active participators in the annual Relay for Life at OSU, a charity event to fundraise money for cancer research. Green has been doing Relay for Life for the past six years, raising collectively with her teams more than $60,000. Currently, CBEE is revamping their involvement and partnership with other student organizations at OSU through their fundraising event, “Dancing with the Faculty”, much like the spin-off of “Dancing with the Stars”. All proceeds generated will go towards the charity. To make it even more exciting, at Relay for Life there is a competition between the students and the faculty every year to see who could run the most laps. Let’s just say so far students aren’t doing so well.
From partaking in outreach programs to fundraising, both Rich and Green emphasizes that CBEE is looking to become more involved within the community and collaborating with student organizations. They believed that through community service it helps in “broadening your view of the world”. Lastly, when asked why someone should get involve, Rich shared with me that “having a strong network of friends in the community really ensures your success in your major and academics.” Green says, “Being with a group of people with similar interests or goals is healthy for a stressed out college student and there is added benefits both socially and professionally”.
Though CBEE is not focused entirely on community service it is clear to me that they make an effort in changing the lives of the students and people around them. The energy committed to strengthen their ties to the community is noteworthy and an experience worth having. If you every find yourself feeling like community service is not a priority to you, you might want to rethink that. It is an incredibly enriching experience that can benefit you not just personally, but professionally.
Think about what community service taught you? What are you doing to give back to your community? I encourage you to get involve, whether it’s mentoring kids or doing soup kitchens. To get involve you can start with the OSU Center for Civic Engagement and service opportunities they have listed online.
Pictures are the property of CBEE and S.E.S.E.Y..
CBEE Group Page: http://groups.engr.oregonstate.edu/aiche/
SESEY Home Page: http://cbee.oregonstate.edu/sesey
Winter Wondering: http://oregonstate.edu/precollege/winter/
Discovery Day: http://outreach.chem.oregonstate.edu/content/discovery-days
Relay for Life: https://www.facebook.com/OregonStateRelayForLife2014