The BIG Event 2015
On March 28, 2015, Southwestern students, faculty, staff and alumni came together for The BIG Event (TBE)—a day dedicated to sustained civic engagement and developing long-standing partnership within our community. Southwestern partnered with local nonprofit and community organizations in order to bring the event to life, and more than 400 Southwestern community members volunteered throughout the Georgetown community.
TBE is a community wide event that is modeled after a 30-year tradition that began at Texas A&M University. At Southwestern, SUSTAIN: Students for Sustained Civic Engagement sponsors the event, which has grown in popularity year after year.
“TBE stimulates a critical mass of volunteers to work with community organizations in Georgetown while also introducing Southwestern community members to those organizations. The hope is that students continue to work with their community partner after TBE concludes,” says Southwestern Coordinator of Civic Engagement Sarah Puffer ’14.
This year, volunteers were stationed at 11 locations around the city, including the Boys & Girls Club of Georgetown, Special Olympics, Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, Getsemani Community Center, Wesleyan Homes Assisted Living and Memory Care, and more.
TBE participant, sophomore Margaret Taylor, described her experience, saying, “We gardened for a couple of hours, mostly just pulling weeds and preparing flower beds. I think it’s admirable that our entire campus wants to give back to the community and I wanted to be part of that! Plus, gardening is fun and it was a nice day spent with friends. I think The BIG Event reminds people how beautiful the Georgetown area is and how we’re part of it and it is our job to help whenever we can.”
As a result of this event and many others coordinated by the Office of Civic Engagement, Southwestern has been included on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, with distinction. This distinction is the highest federal recognition that colleges and universities can receive for community service, community-engaged learning and civic engagement. This annual list highlights the role universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve.
Overall, TBE serves as an example of Southwestern’s Core Purpose—Fostering a liberal arts community whose values and actions encourage contributions toward the well-being of humanity.
Story by Daniella A. Barrera