“I was able to make a difference”: CAST Connections students complete Make it Matter projects – News


This year, the College of Applied Science and Technology launched CAST connections, the college’s new student success center. One of the goals of the center is to provide students with the opportunity to participate in community outreach projects. This goal was achieved this year by partnering with a program called Make it Matter.

“Make it Matter is a high-impact program that aims to help students make a social difference,” said Tamekia Bailey ’08, MS ’10, director of CAST Connections. “Through this program, students are provided with the resources, coaching, and technology necessary to start a community service project of their choice.”

Students were recruited to participate by academic advisors and faculty members. During the first two weeks of the program, students reflected on community concerns that affected them personally. “As students researched issues in the community, they narrowed their list down to one concern that mattered most to them,” Bailey explained.

Amber Smith, a criminal justice science student, said her group decided to start with a goal question to help them come up with a plan of action. “Our goal was: how can we provide better resources and educational programs on disease, mental health, and nutrition to underresourced communities that lack funding, might have lower incomes, or have a shortage of hospitals? »

Smith’s team decided to create and distribute blessing bags to students at Stevenson Elementary School, which is part of District 87 in Bloomington. The bags included healthy snacks and personal hygiene items.

“I learned a lot about team building, research and teamwork, all skills that I will take with me into my future career,” Smith said.

Smith’s teammate, Kyle Ross, a medical laboratory science student, said: “If we really want to help someone, we have to learn what they need. Taking the time to learn this is an important way to offer compassion and kindness.

Makiah Watson, a human development and family science student, participated in a group that decided to focus on supporting victims of sexual assault. “After some research, voting, and deliberation, we’ve decided to host a fundraiser to raise money for a local organization.”

Watson’s group sold snacks on campus and donated the proceeds to the YWCA’s Stepping Stones program. The money was used to buy two sets of clothes for a sexual assault victim to wear home after the hospital. “The level of engagement we received with the project, as well as the realization of the amount of money we raised, was so rewarding.”

Joshua Vargas, an engineering technology and computer systems technology specialist, worked with a group that decided to focus on student mental health. The group decided to hold a Paint and Sip event to encourage their fellow students to relax and prioritize their mental health during a very busy time in the semester.

“The most rewarding part of the project was being able to say that I was part of a group that could make a difference,” Vargas said. “I’ve learned that even if the things you do seem small compared to the things around it, all it takes is something small to cause a ripple effect to get things started. .”

“I enjoyed working with the students, watching their engagement and seeing their critical thinking skills develop as the projects progressed,” Bailey said. “I look forward to seeing what our CAST students will accomplish in the future.”

“Participating in this program was good for the soul,” Smith said. “Getting involved with a group like this is something students shouldn’t miss during their time here at ISU.”


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