Sophomore Days of Service begins Feb. 16

DeKalb Public Library
DeKalb Public Library

Orientation & First-Year Experience and the NIU chapter of Lambda Sigma Sophomore Honor Society have teamed up this semester to offer second-year students an opportunity to give back to the campus and community.

Through “Sophomore Days of Service,” Lambda Sigma members will join with second-year students from other organizations, such as Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Black Male Initiative and the John Henrik Clarke Honor Society.

Between Saturday, Feb. 16, and Thursday, March 7, the sophomores of NIU will give their time to the DeKalb Public Library, Hope Haven, NIU’s Campus Child Care Center and the DeKalb County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

“The goal of this pilot program is to inspire current and future sophomores to become more involved and give back to the DeKalb community,” said Carolyn Stoesser, one of the project’s student coordinators and a Lambda Sigma member.

“Having the opportunity to make the slightest difference in the community and give back is so rewarding,” added Abria Martin, another Sophomore Days of Service leader. “I’m really looking forward to working with the children.”

Children's Book FairIn keeping with the goal of promoting literacy, NIU sophomores will read with DeKalb-area children. Volunteers will be at the DeKalb Public Library from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. NIU’s mascot, Victor E. Huskie, will be present for pictures.

In coming weeks, NIU students will seek donations of new and gently used children’s books to give to children from low-income families served by Hope Haven and the Campus Child Care Center.

NIU faculty, staff and students who want to donate books can deliver them to the First-Year Connections office in the Holmes Student Basement between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday through March 7.  The book drive emphasizes the national Lambda Sigma theme of providing service to underprivileged children

During the service event Wednesday, March 6, at the DeKalb Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, NIU sophomores will play BINGO, read to, write letters for and spend quality time with the residents. Magazines and books also are being collected for this population and can be donated as indicated above.

Sophomore Days of Service are part of a developing initiative to bolster NIU’s opportunities for NIU’s second-year students, said Denise Rode, who is heading up Sophomore Year Experience initiatives and also serves as a faculty adviser to Lambda Sigma.

Denise Rode and Michael Stang
Denise Rode and Michael Stang

Rode and Michael Stang, executive director of Housing & Dining, co-chaired a Division of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management committee of NIU faculty, staff and graduate students in 2011-2012 to study what could be done to support sophomore engagement and retention.

Based on their findings, a pilot program is being implemented this year. Events have included a “Y2@NIU” kick-off last fall, and a “Halfway-There” celebration is planned for the end of the academic year.

“Second-year students are often considered the ‘forgotten student,’ ” Rode said. “Without many of the established supports of the first-year experience, they may find themselves in a ‘sophomore slump’  Our goal is give these students an opportunity to develop leadership skills, deepen their commitment to NIU, determine or confirm their major, find an academic focus, and engage with campus resources such as Career Services as they move toward graduation.”

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