Student volunteer recruits others to work with area youth


Cierra Elder has made volunteering a commitment. She has helped organizations locally, nationally and internationally, and now she is recruiting students to follow in her lead.

Elder, senior in biology, has been a student coordinator of the academic mentoring program at the Community Service Program for three semesters.

“I basically am a line of communication and offer opportunties to K-State students to do youth service and mentoring in grade schools in Manhattan,” she said.

Monica Parrish, special assistant in civil leadership, said Elder had been involved with many of the organization’s programs.

“She is an example of the types of students that are drawn to our program,” she said.

Parrish said CSP is an organization branched under leadership studies and programs in the College of Education.

She said Elder’s responsibilities include recruiting and training students to be academic mentors.

“We’re really working to revamp this program because it’s become kind of stagnant,” Parrish said.

She said the program’s communication with the participating elementary schools and mentoring centers is an area that needs improvement; however, she said the academic mentoring program’s directors are working to better the communication between the mentors and schools.

Parrish said Elder has an advantage as a student coordinator because she started as an academic mentor and has been able to see both sides of the program.

“She’s really good at working with other students,” Parrish said. “She’s very organized and has a lot of good ideas.”

Elder said the academic mentoring program usually involves a total of six to seven grade schools and tutoring centers.

“I’m responsible for talking to them and seeing what those needs and wants are and matching those needs and wants with what the K-State students can do,” she said.

Elder said the program has a required workshop that mentors attend in the semester, and the mentors also turn in monthly time cards and fill out an evaluation at the end of the program.

As a coordinator, Elder said she has balanced her responsibilities with part-time jobs and school in the past.

“It’s all about time management; all college students know that,” she said.

Elder said she has volunteered for many activities throughout college and high school.

This past summer she volunteered at an orphanage in Brazil for eight weeks with the CSP’s International Team.

“I loved it because it was a chance to learn outside the classroom,” she said. Mary Tolar, associate director of leadership studies and programs and director of civic leadership, said CSP also provides students with leadership opportunities.

She said while the students contribute to the program, they also benefit by gaining leadership skills.

“We think it’s very valuable as an educational opportunity,” Tolar said.

Tolar said many of the students who begin volunteering for CSP stay committed to the program and continue serving.

She said Elder works about 15 hours a week, and her work is done mostly in the CSP office.

“She needs to be available to the mentors as they come in,” she said. “Much of the work that she does is through communication and record keeping, although, there are often site visits that take her off campus as well.”

Elder said there are many opportunities for students to get involved. She suggested they look at the CSP’s Web site or call the office.

“Something to remember is that we have day activities, and we also have the mentoring program that allows students to put in whatever their schedule allows,” she said.

She added that volunteering has benefits for students.

“It’s great for getting a job,” she said. “There are so many jobs that are service oriented, and if not, you’re always working with people in some way.”

Parrish said a volunteer center that is based out of the Community Service Program is also available for students.

“If students want to serve on a regular basis, the center would be a good way to get involved,” she said.

Tolar said the volunteer center will also have student coordinators that will also gives students an opportunity to volunteer.