Personal Growth Through Service Learning
Since 2007, Viking Expeditions (VE) has been helping CSU graduate and undergraduate students broaden their worldview through local, national and international service opportunities.
During spring break, 40 students participated in VE experiences. In Cuyahoga Valley National Park, they restored trails and helped with recreation programs. In Georgia’s Chattahoochee Valley, they renovated houses for those in need. And in Houston, they worked alongside social service agencies to aid residents who continue to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Martin Barnard was one of those students. A sophomore double-majoring in film and music, he is president of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, a Presidential Student Ambassador and a senator-at-large in the Student Government Association. He shares his firsthand account of his Viking Expedition.
I cannot put into words the amazement I experienced during my week in Houston. I have participated in several VE service trips before, but none of them made me feel as connected to my CSU volunteer group, to many different college students who came together to serve, or to a community that I was not familiar with.
Before the trip began, I was overwhelmed with stress from school, my involvements on campus, and the relationships in my life. When the week started, I didn’t want to meet new people and I didn’t know how much I was going to get out of the trip. But then I got to Houston and immediately stopped thinking of myself.
We were split into teams made up of student volunteers from Michigan, Texas and Alaska. We worked on restoring the outside of a house that had been flooded with four feet of water from Hurricane Harvey. Imagine losing your furniture, flooring, wall decorations, curtains, and personal items such as computers, books and old photos. The house was so bad that it really did not have a bottom half left to it.
We got to work on the siding and immediately ran into issues because the windows and doors were not framed correctly when the house was built. So a project that should have taken a few hours lasted two and a half days.
I spent the week housed at the Boys and Girls Club in Galveston, which is an hour out of Houston. We slept on American Red Cross cots, had to figure out a nifty shower situation, and were usually awake by 5 a.m. The program MADE you a volunteer at heart.
My challenge now is to not leave behind the lessons of that week. I want to bring my experiences to Cleveland and into my future profession. This VE experience made me reflect on my own life. I’ve found a much greater version of myself that I’m ready to share with the world.Martin Barnard
Advancing Space Science and Exploration
Andrew Wimmer helped develop novel, high-temperature, nickel-based superalloys for use in future aerospace applications. Melanie Brunner assisted in the administration of a comprehensive database for national and international oversight of radio spectrum use. Santino Bianco worked on the concept design for an improved lander for surface exploration missions to Venus.
You might think it takes years of experience to get these types of opportunities, but these three actually worked on these projects as CSU students. They were part of CSU’s longstanding cooperative education and internship program with NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
Wimmer’s 15-week internship was extended to a part-time contract, thanks to his central role in the implementation of 3D printing technology in the design and development of nickel-based superalloy parts for use in future aircraft.
During her internship, Brunner was tasked with cleaning up and improving the management of a database of regulatory approvals for radio spectrum use. Following graduation, she was hired as a NASA contractor to continue development and oversight of the system.
Bianco’s experience, working on design specifications and analysis for the Venus space lander, was nothing short of “mind blowing,” he says.