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Susquehanna University Service Programs Earn Nations Award

April 1, 2009

SELINSGROVE, Pa. – SU SPLASH, a service-learning program for incoming first-year students at Susquehanna University, received an Excellence Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) at the organization’s annual conference in March. SPLASH earned a silver award in the “Careers, Academic Support, Service-Learning, Community Service and Related” category, marking it as one of the best programs of its type in the nation.

SPLASH, which stands for Students Promoting Leadership and Awareness in Serving the Homeless, was initiated with a grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in 2005 and is jointly sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain and the Center for Civic Engagement at Susquehanna.

Each academic year, up to 20 first-year students, four student mentors, the chaplain, and two faculty and staff members participate in the week-long, intensive service-learning program. The experience begins and ends on Susquehanna’s campus, includes three-and-a-half days in Washington, D.C., and comprises:

Service, including volunteering at Haven Ministries in Sunbury, Pa.; working at the 1,350-bed Center for Creative Non-Violence in Washington; and offering lunches, toiletries and caring conversation in Washington parks to people in need.

Academic learning, including lectures by Susquehanna faculty; panel presentations by people who are or were homeless; readings and group discussions; and visits to Congress, churches and agencies that engage in direct service and/or advocacy for people who are hungry and homeless.

Reflection, including journaling, group processing and making a post-trip presentation to families at the end of the week.

The Rev. Mark Wm. Radecke, chaplain to the university, noted the program’s many rewards. “Seeing incoming students form friendships that last throughout their time at SU and beyond, watching them initiate conversations with people experiencing homelessness and treat them as fellow citizens with God-given dignity, helping them break through to new and deeper understandings of the issues surrounding homelessness, and challenging them to rethink myths and stereotypes -- all of these things, and more, keep me involved in this program,” he said.

NASPA is the leading voice for student affairs administration, policy and practice, and affirms the commitment of the student affairs profession to educating the whole student and integrating student life and learning. With more than 11,000 members at 1,400 campuses, representing 29 countries, NASPA is the foremost professional association for student affairs administrators, faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students. NASPA Excellence Awards recognize the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services and effective administration.

Founded in 1858, Susquehanna University is a national liberal arts college that prepares students for achievement, leadership and service in a diverse, interconnected world. Academic excellence, study away and service learning, student-faculty collaboration, and rich opportunities for creative and personal growth are hallmarks of a Susquehanna University education. Susquehanna students come from 30 states and 12 countries, and more than 90 percent of them find jobs or pursue graduate study within six months of graduation. The university is located in central Pennsylvania, in the town of Selinsgrove, along the banks of the scenic Susquehanna River and about three hours from major East Coast cultural, financial and recreational centers.

Contact: Karen Jones


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