Q & A
Jay Helmer, Assistant Director of Residence Life for Civic Engagement
Jay Helmer began his work at Susquehanna last summer, but his dedication to community service is nothing new. Helmer spent three years working with Campus Compact, an organization dedicated to civic engagement on college campuses. Now he helps provide students with volunteer service opportunities such as SU GIVE (Get Into Volunteer Experiences) for first-year students and the campuswide SU SERVE.
SC: As an alumnus of Kenyon College and a former intern at Gettysburg College, what attracted you to another liberal arts environment?
JH: As a student, I was drawn to small institutions because they offered smaller classes and a chance to get to know professors, but what really struck me was the sense of community they foster. After completing a master’s degree at a large public university, I knew I wanted to be back on a small, liberal arts campus and have the chance to help build the type of community that makes schools like Susquehanna so special.
SC: What led to your interest in civic engagement on college campuses?
JH: My parents volunteered through our church in Connecticut and encouraged me to do the same. At Kenyon, I was part of a local service fraternity very similar to Alpha Phi Omega, but it was my time with Campus Compact as an AmeriCorps*VISTA [representative] where I first learned how powerful effective service programs could be for both students and the community.
SC: In what ways would you like to see the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) develop?
JH: The center has done a great job developing and running one-time events that are tremendously valuable for students, and coordinating trips including hurricane relief teams to the Gulf Coast and SU SPLASH (Students Promoting Leadership and Awareness in Serving the Homeless). Where we can grow is in facilitating additional recurring service opportunities. I would also like to see the CCE support more faculty who are interested in incorporating service learning into their classes.
SC: What is your favorite aspect of the Susquehanna community so far?
JH: I’ve really appreciated how welcoming the Susquehanna community has been, and the energy of the students toward service has been amazing. During my second week at SU, I went on the SU SPLASH trip. The students became very close-knit, and I was incredibly impressed by their dedication to service.
Contributing writers to The ’Grove section are Victoria Kidd, editor; Charlotte Lotz ’12, a creative writing major from Sugarloaf, Pa.; and Megan McDermott ’14, a creative writing and religion major from Lewisberry, Pa.