Student Engagement?…I told you it was great!

Hey there readers! You know how I’m always rambling on about how great it is to immerse yourself in engagement activities and opportunities while you are a student? Well, this week you are in for a real treat! Instead of me babbling on like usual, today I am turning the floor over to Amanda, a UMN student who participated in the HECUA program last year, and wanted to assure all of you that this whole “student engagement thing” really is worth the time and energy. Here is what she had to say:

HECUA was where I learned my place in our Twin Cities community.

In spring 2013 I participated in the HECUA: Arts & Social Change semester program. We were a wonderfully small group of only six students, led by Bill Reichard, HECUA instructor and poet. Through our meetings twice a week, we developed a close and trusting circle. Together we were creative artists, interested citizens, and talented students.

The HECUA classroom was different than anything we had ever experienced before. It served us with a base to ask questions that had no single, right answer. There we formulated opinions about how art can be used to transform a community. We learned tools in combating the injustices of stereotypes, inequity, and marginalized voices. Beyond this, we created and realized a set of identities–who our community was, who we were within it, and who we were as an artist.


The program was split into three, simultaneous sections: Reading Seminar, Field Seminar, and Internship.


Within the reading seminar, we focused our attention to books written by controversial and community-focused artists, activist authors of nonfiction, introspective poets, stereotype-combating playwrights, and thought-probing writers of fiction. For each class session, we prepared a set of three “framing questions” based upon our readings. These questions were meant to be open-ended and not prepared to find one answer. They were used to guide conversation and help us to think in-depth on other perspectives and opinions.


In the field seminar, we had a chance to move beyond our books and see what was happening in our community. We visited ground-level, Twin City native, community organizations like Wing Young Huie’s Third Place Gallery, Springboard for the Arts, Works Progress, Lowertown’s Bedlam Theatre, among others. In these places, we met and spoke with the directors and learnt how they established themselves and their ways of actively participating in their community. We also visited renowned museums like the Walker Art Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Minnesota History Museum, and discussed their thought-stimulating exhibits. Local theatre performances were attended by us often as well.


The internship was where we had the opportunity to apply all of our theoretical knowledge we had learned, and gain practical experience. I interned at Central Touring Theatre–a social justice, high school theatre company from Central High School, Saint Paul, that performs original works each year to an audience of over 10,000. It was there that I witnessed the impact young students can have on their community when they gather their voices and speak-out together. I visited CTT two to three times a week throughout the semester, helping to facilitate theatre activities, providing photo documentation, and developing a book that outlined the entirety of their season’s work.



The lesson within my HECUA experience that I most appreciate learning was how I can engage my community with art and how to use that engagement to make an impact.


To be a HECUA student, you must be ready to open yourself up to new ideas and beliefs, have the ability to break down buried stereotypes, and expect to uncover the power in your voice. I recommend the HECUA experience to any student desiring to find their identity within themselves, and within their larger community.

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That was the message from this past Tuesday night. With an evening featuring A Capella group Urban Sound, and high levels of fanciness and fine dining, the Tony Diggs Excellence Awards ceremony really was…excellent.

For those of you who may not know what I am talking about, the Tony Diggs Excellence Awards are given out each year by SUA to student groups which contribute to the campus and community throughout the past calendar year.  The awards also seek to celebrate the legacy of Tony Diggs, a former university community leader dedicated to intentional involvement and appreciation of diversity.

At the ceremony, we heard from Vice Provost Danita Brown Young as well as Mrs. Karen Kaler, whose homage to the diversity of campus student groups was most humorous and enjoyable. Among her list of creative ideas for group collaboration, was the suggestion to combine our ballroom dancing club with our unicyclist club to form a dancing unicyclist group.

As the ceremony progressed, tension began to build as people waited anxiously to hear the winners. Fortunately for you, I was there to take it all down, so you don’t have to bear the suspense!

And the winners are:

Outstanding Service/Philanthropic Project – American Medical Student Association-Pre Med

Innovation Award – University YMCA

Rookie Student Group – Black Men’s Forum

Outstanding Undergrad Registered Student Organization – Al-Madinah Cultural Center

Outstanding Undergrad Campus Life Program – College of Biological Sciences Student Board

Outstanding Grad/Professional Student Group – Phillips Neighborhood Clinic

Outstanding Co-Sponsored Program or Event – Al-Madinah Cultural Center; Muslim Student Association

Outstanding Program or Event – GOFIRST

Outstanding Undergrad Student Group Advisor – CBS Student Board: Meaghan Stein

Congratulations to all of the winners, and good luck to all of the groups next year as they too pursue excellence!


OK, let’s be honest, it probably wasn’t the BEST idea in the world to wait until now to search for a summer internship. But hey, life can get crazy, I understand. In fact, I REALLY understand. I too am in need of some more summer work, and have recently taken to the web in a last minute scramble to find an open position.

But, where on earth does one even begin?! Sure, the internet makes job searching easier in theory, but now that we can access thousands upon thousands of these postings with just a few clicks of the mouse, the task of sifting through them all seems more daunting than the application process itself.

Enter GoldPASS, the U’s very own job and internship aggregator. This fantastic online tool gathers hundreds of local and national listings for job and internships, and provides an easy to use filter which allows you to sift through the postings by major, location, keywords, or degree.

In addition to the job search aspect of the website, GoldPASS also functions somewhat like a LinkedIn profile; in that, you are able craft your personal page, complete with info about your academic interests and pursuits, so employers can quickly recognize and seek out interested candidates for positions.

So, do YOU have a GoldPASS? If not, I highly recommend getting one. It is a great tool for accessing all sorts of opportunities, and if you are anything like me, it is a necessary device for the last minute spring scramble.

Set up your own GoldPASS account today!

and the nominees are…

You know that one event that happens every year, where hundreds of people dressed to the nines gather in a big fancy room to celebrate the hard work and dedication of an industry’s top performers? Here’s a hint: It’s not the Emmy’s, it’s not the Grammy’s, and it’s not even the Tony’s…it’s the SELPies!

Now, before you start feverishly scratching your head in confusion, let me explain. The SELPies event is an annual celebration put on by the Office for Student Engagement, which serves to commend the hardworking undergraduate student employees of this fine university. After all, there are about 10,000 of us that work here on campus, and without our dedication, things would not run nearly as well as they do.

I digress. Let me return once more to the matter at hand. The celebration of celebrations, the crème de la crème of university gatherings – The SELPies. With the accompaniment of the wonderful staff and facilities of the McNamara Alumni Center, the SELPies were able to play host to around 330 students and faculty, with a special appearance by Goldy Gopher.

In an hour of great food and cheerful conversation, we saw two staff members crowned “Student Supervisors of the Year,” along with two teams of student workers who received the equivalent award in their category. To top it all off, our very own Brandon Clayton had the pleasure of announcing this year’s 40+ SELP (Student Employment Leadership Program) graduates. He doesn’t like bragging, so I will do it for him – this is the largest number of graduates we have ever had!!

Unfortunately, we know that not all of you were able to join us yesterday for this incredible event, but all hope is not lost! In fact, if you would like to join next year’s SELPies event, all you have to do is complete the SELP program (and be employed on campus of course). So, if you are tired of hearing about student employment and are ready to join the team, follow the links below to get started!!

Student Jobs:


Photos from the event (posted on 4/28/14):

Student + Employment = Student Employment

Happy National Student Employment Week!! That’s right, it’s a thing. AND, here at the Office for Student Engagement, we would just like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of you who are student employees.

Did you know that there are more than 10,000 of you on the U of M campus? This means that roughly 1 in every 5 people you walk past on your way to class is employed by the U. I know what you are thinking – dang.

Truth be told, the university student employees are an instrumental part of making sure this institution functions on a day to day basis. Don’t believe me? Let me break it down for you.

-Have you ever eaten a meal in one of the dining halls? Student employment.

-Have you ever checked out a book at a campus library? Student employment.

-Have you ever met with a Strengths Coach? Student employment.

Think you still don’t need them? How about this last one:

-Have you ever, even once, gone to class? Boom. Student employment.

That’s right. Many students are unaware of this fact, but there is actually a team of individuals that go around to classrooms throughout the week to make sure equipment is functioning properly, and supplies are well stocked for professors and students.

So, when I say that these students are an important part of the U, do you believe me now? If not, I highly encourage you to jump on to the UMN Employment website and have your mind blown by the super wide range of positions that you didn’t even know existed. AND, while you are there, feel free to apply to any one of those openings!

To wrap it up for the week though, I would once again just like to give a heartfelt thank you to all of you who currently are working on campus, regardless of your position. We need you to make this place both operational and enjoyable, and you are doing a great job at both!!

For those of you not employed by the U, I encourage you to give it a try! Student jobs offer great pay, flexible hours, and wonderful professional development opportunities. If it doesn’t interest you, that’s fine too, I just want to ask that each and every one of you takes a moment to appreciate those around you who work hard to make this campus so great.

Hey, it is National Student Employment Week after all, how about giving them a high five and a smile!?!

Time to Get Started

Last week we talked about the benefits and importance of volunteering. This week, we encourage you to get started!! 

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Mentor
Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota is seeking volunteer mentors to serve participants in programs focused on securing employment, healthy relationships and financial literacy.   Both one-on-one and group mentoring options during daytime and evening hours. Must be comfortable with diversity and able to offer support.

Evening Group Activity Assistant
Assist in planning a group activity (with supervisors) for clients who have suffered brain injuries at Restart, Inc.  Twin Cities locations, weekend evenings, training provided, six month commitment required.

Carousel Volunteer
Historic Cafesjian’s Carousel spent 75 years at the State Fair and is now located in Como Park in St. Paul. Seeking volunteers to help operate the ride, greet & assist visitors, sell tickets & gifts, and sharing historic carousel information. Volunteers ensure visitors a fun and safe time for all.  Weekday and weekend shifts, day time. They especially need volunteers for afternoons and weekends.

Como Regional Park Garlic Mustard Challenge
Community members are invited to help remove garlic mustard, an invasive species, in Como Regional Park on the morning of Saturday, May 24. Open to volunteers of all ages. Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors crews and Saint Paul Parks and Recreation will lead volunteers in the project. Gloves, garbage bags and refreshments will be provided.

Become a Foster Parent
Volunteers of America-MN is looking for dedicated singles or couples to help in their foster care programs: Therapeutic Foster Care and Emergency Shelter Care. Hundreds of youth in the Twin Cities are displaced and need a safe, stable home. VOA provides foster parents with friendly training and 24 hour on-call support, and a small monetary reimbursement (to assist with the expenses).

Give Back on Easter
On the third Sunday of each month, admission to the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul is free. This year, April’s Free Sunday falls on Easter, April 20. Here’s an opportunity to give back on that day. Greet visitors, help manage the line, answer questions, give directions, assist visitors as they navigate through crowds and play with kids. Four-hour shifts, morning or afternoon.

Garden Guru
Aeon provides quality, affordable housing near downtown and South Minneapolis.  If you love to garden, consider adopting one of their properties. Seeking individuals and small groups who will come by a property weekly during the growing season to plant, weed, water, and tend to flowers. Plants are provided. One to two hours a week–any day, any time! Youth welcome with adult supervision.

Personal Transportation Driver
DARTS is seeking drivers to provide personal ride service to seniors who cannot easily use the Transit Link bus service. Seniors are living in Dakota County and need rides to various metro areas for their appointments. Mostly daytime to medical appointments. Flexible schedule.

Help Seniors Pick Up Free Groceries
Volunteers needed at Second Harvest Heartland in Maplewood to distribute boxes of groceries through a federally funded program. Volunteers assist SHH staff in sorting food, and help seniors carry boxes to their vehicles.  This position is physical, fast-paced, and requires volunteers be able to lift a 30 lb. box.  Morning and afternoons, 3-hour shifts. Please commit to 4-6 months.

Cheerful Givers provides birthday gift bags to disadvantaged children through shelters and food shelves. Instead of a traditional party, send invitations to a Cheerful Givers Un-Event where guests don’t need to attend at all. Instead they can stay home and donate to provide birthday gifts for children who are homeless or living in poverty on their birthday.

HandsOn Twin Cities
2021 E Hennepin Av
Suite 420
Minneapolis, MN 55413

(612) 379-4900




Volunteering…just do it.

Fact: Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health. Fact: Volunteering looks great on a résumé. Fact: Volunteering provides an opportunity to build an incredible network of friends and potential future employers. Fact: the number of students that volunteer during college is slowly declining.

Wait, what? Declining? But didn’t we just list like three super solid reasons for why someone SHOULD volunteer? Indeed we did. So, this raises the very relevant question: “why are students not engaging as much in volunteering these days?” The answer is dreadfully simple: TIME.

If you are anything like myself, then you are probably wondering “what does a popular waiting room magazine have to do with a drop in collegiate volunteering numbers?” OK, odds are, that that was not at all what you were thinking. But, just to be clear, I am referring to time, that preciously limited commodity we all wish we had more of, and in the case of Justin Timberlake’s character Will Salas, something people will even risk their lives for.

Now, before I get all side tracked and start rambling on about sci-fi movies, let me get back to the topic at hand. The point I am trying to make is this: we get it, time is valuable, and as college students, it often seems that the longer you are here, the less time you actually have. So why am I asking you to carve out even MORE time out of your busy schedules to “give back” a little? Because, honestly, it’s worth it.

And, when I say that it is worth it, I am not talking about resume boosters or professional networks. You see, when you take time out of your day/week to invest in a cause bigger than yourself (especially when it is something you are already passionate about) it just down right feels good to give. I know from experience that the benefits of donating a few hours of my time far outweigh the costs, and I have yet to meet a single person that regrets a single minute they spent volunteering.

So, like Nike (and the title of this blog) says, just do it. Find a cause you love/interests you, and start volunteering today. Well…maybe tomorrow is more realistic. Start volunteering tomorrow! If you ARE ready to start, but don’t know where to begin, you can either consult the Community Service Learning Center, OR, just like EngageUMN on Facebook and receive weekly updates for all kinds of incredibly fun and unique ways to volunteer.