Capella University has more than 84,000 alumni [Source: Capella fact sheet]. That is an enormous force that together can make an incredible impact. That’s exactly what happened recently when Capella launched its first-ever Alumni Day of Service, which actually was a month-long initiative leading up to commencement that encouraged alumni to give back.
Capella University President Dick Senese, PhD, LP, developed the concept for the Alumni Day of Service to activate Capella’s army of alumni to make a difference in their communities through acts of kindness and good deeds.
“I have a firm belief that education has the power to change people’s lives and the communities where they live,” Senese said. “Our alumni and students give back to their communities all the time, but asking them to do it leading up to our commencement sends the message to our new alumni about the opportunity and responsibility to continue to give back and pay it forward. Commencement is the beginning of an expectation that our alumni use their newfound knowledge and position to further contribute to our communities and the world.”
Capella Alumni Making a Difference
Inspired by the Alumni Day of Service, Shameka Green, a graduate of Capella’s Marriage and Family Therapy online degree program, launched an initiative to send nearly 100 care packages to children of incarcerated parents in the Las Vegas area. Those packages included journals, hygiene products, mailing stamps, even “support bears” donated by Build-A-Bear, anything to help the kids cope with being without their parents.
A former child of an incarcerated parent herself (Green’s mother first went to prison when she was only 7 years old), Green now operates a marriage and family counseling practice in the Las Vegas area called Emma’s House.
“I love the fact that Capella is proactively reaching out to encourage alumni to better their communities,” Green said. “Capella didn’t have to do that, but it has, and that says a lot about the values of the University and of its alumni.”
Kallin Moore, who recently completed her EdD at Capella specializing in leadership and management, is a long-term volunteer at the Heart of Hospice in Lafayette, Louisiana, calling on approximately 100 hospice patients and their caregivers. She volunteered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and resumed her volunteer work once Louisiana’s lockdown period passed.
During her weekly volunteer visits, Moore helps ensure that patients not only have enough medication to get them through the weekend, as it can often be more expensive to acquire medications on the weekend, but also to check on whether or not they are likely to need nursing care over the weekend, as that can be hard to arrange once the weekend arrives. More importantly she provides a supportive and encouraging ear, compassionately listening to their fears and concerns.
“It says a lot that Capella is about more than providing a quality education,” Moore said. “It’s a whole-person experience, and the Alumni Day of Service is an example of that. It’s about creating a community of people who truly care and want to make an impact in their communities.”
Senese said the feedback to the Alumni Day of Service has been overwhelmingly positive, and he hopes to make the Alumni Day of Service an ongoing initiative leading up to each Capella commencement.
“We’ve heard so many incredible stories from our alumni who are giving back in so many ways, and that makes it clear to me that we need to continue to inspire and encourage them, and all of us, to give back to our communities,” Senese said. “What more powerful reminder to do that than the time leading up to commencement.”
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