SPARC Engages First-Year Students

August 26, 2010

On Saturday, August 21, more than 600 incoming first-year and transfer Rollins students, faculty, peer mentors and staff volunteers put Rollins' mission into action by participating in community engagement projects across Central Florida as part of SPARC, a component of Rollins’ fall orientation.

SPARC (Service Philanthropy Activism Rollins College) was created in 2006 to introduce Rollins’ newest students to the Central Florida community in a day of learning, community service and activism by partnering students with community agencies across Central Florida.  This year, students took part in 21 projects including landscaping, taking a toxic tour of Lake Apopka and introducing senior citizens to the latest technology, and produced more 2,500 hours of community service.

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Joe Siry’s class, Our Imperiled Planet, took a toxic tour of Lake Apopka as part of SPARC.  “Rollins never ceases to amaze and impress me,” said Jeannie Economos, pesticide safety and environmental health project coordinator with the Farmworker Association of Florida.  “We are grateful that Rollins is giving students these opportunities and exposure to social justice issues and the importance of engaging in the community.”

Professor of Communication Marvin Newman and Professor of English Twila Papay’s classes visited The Mayflower retirement community to share technology, such as iPods and iPhones, and record the residents’ stories.

“This was an amazing opportunity, because Mr. Polgar, the man I interviewed, actually lived through what we’ve read about in history books,” said Rollins student Sanjay Bickram Rana (Class of 2014). “Hearing about these events through his perspective was much different than reading about them in a book.”

The goal of SPARC is to ignite students' interest and passion for service and activism and to teach students that their community extends beyond the college campus.  The event was sponsored by the Rollins College Office of Community Engagement with support of various campus offices, including Explorations.

"The most important component of SPARC is actually the day after SPARC—the day that students reflect on their experience and commit to lives of active citizenship,” said Meyer. “We want students to live their lives differently based on what they experienced. We want students to challenge the status quo and connect their head with heart in working toward justice and progress in our community at Rollins and beyond."

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