April 2, 2020

16 years of SUN Involvement Center of Service and Learning

College of Eastern Utah’s SUN (Serving Utah Network) Involvement Center of Service and Learning has been a growing and integral part of campus life and the student experience for the past 16 years. The SUN Center traces its beginnings to 1993 at a meeting between then Dean of Students Jay Andrus, Student Activities Director Brad King, and Placement Coordinator Kathy Murray.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

College of Eastern Utah’s SUN (Serving Utah Network) Involvement Center of Service and Learning has been a growing and integral part of campus life and the student experience for the past 16 years. The SUN Center traces its beginnings to 1993 at a meeting between then Dean of Students Jay Andrus, Student Activities Director Brad King, and Placement Coordinator Kathy Murray.
Utah higher education institutions were meeting to promote a new national movement called Service Learning. Dean Andrus asked Murray if she would “volunteer” to be the lead person on the CEU campus and represent the college at some state-wide meetings. The rest is history.
Fall Semester set new standards for success for the SUN Center. The 17 student leaders initiated and carried out 35 projects ranging from a local Angel Tree project for Christmas to a Newborns in Need project. The CEU Leadership Consortium made up of CEUSA (student government), the student ambassadors and residence hall assistants each committed to 20 hours of service and provided a core of volunteers.
The cumulative efforts of the SUN Center and other campus leadership groups provided invaluable service to the state and the communities of Eastern Utah. Fall semester, 917 CEU students provided 5,823 hours of service. This is remarkable considering the total student body for fall semester was 2,082. The estimated value of the combined service hours has been conservatively estimated at almost $110,000.00.
Projects included the annual Bread ‘n Soup Night which raised over $3,000 for the local food bank. Bread ‘n Soup Night brings students and community members to the college to eat bread and soup for a minimal donation. The meal is prepared by CEU Food Service with help from local chefs assisted by students, faculty and staff of the college. Twelve hundred and seventy people attended and were served a variety of soups and fresh bread.
Other projects benefitted local elementary and junior High students, the veterans of Foreign Wars, Nine-Mile Canyon and the Second Chance Wildlife Rehab Center. Volunteers also provided Thanksgiving dinners for international students who had no Thanksgiving plans. The Parkdale Care Center, Children’s Justice Center, Carbon County Animal Shelter and Emery County Recreation also benefitted from SUN Center volunteers.
The communities and charitable organizations were not the only ones who benefitted from the volunteer experiences. The students who participated indicated personal growth and satisfaction from their service. Monica Alexander of Helper, Utah said, “My volunteer experience was hard. I had to juggle a lot between school, work and getting the volunteer hours done. When I did get that time in, it felt good. It made me realize that the simplest things you do in life can mean the world to someone else.”
Ben Bjornson of Salt Lake City said, “Being a volunteer was a great experience. It made me realize that my actions can benefit someone else. It really puts things in perspective when I think of it like that.”
Upcoming activities for the SUN Center include a Volunteer Fair and Disabilities luncheon on February 10. Opportunities for service will be showcased in an effort to encourage more students to get involved in volunteerism and service learning. Additionally the SUN CENTER and the Breakaway Club will be co-sponsoring their annual “Alternative Spring Break”. This activity offers an opportunity to interested students to do meaningful service with what otherwise might be less productive time. Active Re-entry of Carbon County, United Way of Eastern Utah and Utah Youth Service through their Marathon Grant have partnered with the campus groups to provide financial means to return to the Navajo Reservation and do work to improve accessibility to housing for people with disabilities, construct bathroom facilities and improve watering systems.
Murray added, “Not only do students who get involved develop a love for service, but the College recognizes students who give 200 hours of service and take eight-credit hours of regular academic classes which have a Service Learning component as a class requirement with a special Service Learning Distinction at graduation and on their permanent college transcript.”
The stated mission of the SUN Involvement Center is to “Empower students, faculty, and community members to become part of the solution to the needs of our communities. Inspire and enhance the effectiveness of volunteerism. Support community agencies and leaders in service oriented endeavors. Identify specific needs and solutions. And to advocate and facilitate for service as a part of the learning process.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email