Seniors in last year as Civic Action Leaders continue to contribute in community

Emma Sales first heard about the Civic Action Leader [CAL] program at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service her freshman year.

Now she’s in her third and final year of the program, and helps to plan the day.

She researched the program after hearing about it and found that “the mission and the goals of the program really aligned with my personal goals and values, and so it was a way to continue a lot of that community service that I did in high school, but in a bigger way,” Sales said.

Previous experience with community service isn’t a requirement for becoming a CAL, though. The Office of Service Learning is more concerned with selecting CALs who are “motivated and genuinely interested in community service,” said Jeremy Doughty, assistant director of co-curricular programs and Civic

Action Leaders.

“We’re very open-minded when it comes to applicants,” Doughty said. “We really value diversity in

our office.”

Though Sales came in with community service experience, she has grown in the area of

event planning.

Earlier in the year, Sales focused on fundraising, Doughty said. Money is needed to cover costs related to the event, as well as to pay for supplies such as paint that are used in various service projects.

As the Day of Service approached, Sales’ attention turned to organizing transportation. That was not a small task, as 700 volunteers will be headed to 45 community partners to complete projects.

Civic Action Leader Maddi Georgoff has been organizing the day’s opening and closing ceremonies, including the guest speakers, Doughty said.

Sales and Georgoff often focus on helping the community, but they also know that they in turn have been helped by the CAL program.

“We always joke — and I think it was something Maddi said our first year — that we should be paying the program,” Sales said. [CALs receive scholarships in exchange for their work.]

Georgoff agreed, adding, “We receive so much support and training and resources that it’s something that I don’t want to imagine my college experience without. I’ve really become a better person because of this program.”

She’s gained professional skills and event planning knowledge, but has also adopted new values and become more civically engaged, she said.

Students interested in similar growth must apply for the program by Jan. 26. After the Office of Service Learning and the current CALS review the applications, some applicants will be chosen for interviews. Then comes a group interview and a final individual interview. Two people will be chosen, Georgoff said.

“It’s pretty competitive, but the application process and the interview process is a really good experience for people who might not have had interview experiences before,” Georgoff said.

The office will try to notify chosen CALs before spring break.

As a new cohort comes in, it’s time for Sales and Georgoff to think about where they’re going next.

“One of the most incredible things is that we both have a few opportunities after graduation, but none of them are things that we were really actively seeking out,” Georgoff said. “They were brought to us …. It’s cool to be recognized by the community as future leaders in this field.”