Get to know Chelsea Hawkins

This week, The Settler is with Chelsea Hawkins, Volunteer State Community College’s new service learning specialist.

Hawkins studied business at Vol State, and then transferred to MTSU to complete a degree in marketing and business administration.  She works through a program called Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA).

She said that her goal as a VISTA is to inspire growth in service learning at Vol State.

“Service learning incorporates engaging and serving others with educational goals and objectives.  In an essence, students learn by serving and doing while positively affecting the lives and well-being of those in our community, and in the case of our national outreach projects, those around the world,” she said.

Hawkins volunteered with an inner-city mission called REACH (Revealing Eternity and Changing Hearts) for five years.

“My love for working with this program and seeing how the lives and confident levels of the children we worked with changed as a result of our leaders’ interaction with them is what lead me to being a VISTA here at Vol State,” she said.

Hawkins said that she is a strong advocate for personal and educational growth.

“You’re the only one standing in your way of success.  Work harder every day than you did the day before, and you will evolve into the best possible version of yourself. Growth starts and stops with you.  Nothing worthwhile ever came easy.”

According to Americorps.gov, VISTA is a program with roots dating back to 1963.  President John F. Kennedy envisioned a national service corps “to help provide urgently needed services in urban and rural poverty areas.”

Vol State’s service learning program allows students to take the skills and knowledge they gain in the classroom out to the community, according to the school’s website.  In 2009, the program received the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

Hawkins is a big sports fan, and calls herself “very competitive.”  She said that she became a Pittsburgh Steelers fan after reading a profile of player Troy Polamalu.  His love for working with special needs children struck a nerve with her.

“Besides Troy, what’s not to love about the Steelers?” she said.

Vol State’s Service Learning Club is sponsoring a dodgeball tournament on Feb. 19.  On Feb. 21, a lunchtime program will offer information to help students, faculty and staff get involved in service.

For more information about service learning, contact Chelsea Hawkins at (615) 230-3315.

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