Wesleyan Engaged moves civic engagement online for the 2020-2021 school year

Wesleyan Engaged focuses on programs throughout the campus and community that engage VWU students, faculty and staff on issues like animals, the environment, Hampton Roads schools, health, hunger, housing and women and gender interests.

Dr. Brian Kurisky, director of civic engagement and service learning at Wesleyan Engaged, shares about the intention of Wesleyan Engaged helping students learn more about the civic engagement opportunities they offer on and off-campus.

“We like to talk about community engagement because the hope is that our students working with various agencies both on and off-campus will continue a relationship that engages them on multiple levels,” said Kurisky.

Despite COVID-19 impacting in-person civic and community engagement, Wesleyan Engaged has adapted to sharing volunteer opportunities that are in a virtual setting. Students with a passion for animals and wildlife can volunteer online with Zooniverse, for example. 

Kurisky added, “Moving 95% of our engagement online was a difficult task. That’s mainly due to the fact that oftentimes people don’t think you can do engagement online.”

With the increasing need for service in the medical field and people looking to find information about COVID-19 vaccination clinics, students can volunteer at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) vaccination sites to help with non-clinical duties such as greeting, screening and observing.

Wesleyan Engaged has also completed several drives throughout the academic year such as inviting participants to donate blood for the American Red Cross blood drives, collecting feminine hygiene products for the Samaritan House and sending nonperishable food items to the local food bank.  One of the current donation drives is collecting empty or expired mascara bottles, eyebrow brushes or spoolies for the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge that will be used to brush fleas and ticks out of small wildlife’s coats. 

“Wesleyan Engaged is a bridge to connect students with partnered organizations to look for volunteering opportunities,” said JaLea Moody, a Wesleyan Engaged Work Study.

 “If there’s nothing that interests you when reading about the volunteer opportunities in the shared email, then [you] can reach out to us and let us know what type of engagement opportunities [you] would be interested in” said Jennaphur Nixon, another Wesleyan Engaged Work Study. 

For more information on upcoming Wesleyan Engaged events students should pay close attention to the emails sent out weekly and flyers posted on campus. Students can also visit the Wesleyan Engaged office in Clarke Hall.

By Tiffany Warren