Whitworth's Dornsife Center gives students opportunity to serve, even beyond graduation.
The Dornsife Center for Community Engagement cultivates community engagement efforts that provide safe, academically rigorous opportunities for students to explore, serve and create. Daniel Geiter, '16, is one alum influenced through his work with the center in the Spokane community.
"The Dornsife Center functions as a portal between a university and a community," Geiter says. "This could occur naturally, but having an office that focuses on civic engagement for our students ensures opportunities for the community to feel valued by the university it hosts."
During his time at Whitworth, Geiter volunteered with the RISE program, a tutoring and mentoring program that connects Whitworth students with local high school students. He was hired as the program coordinator at North Central High School, in Spokane.
"This leadership position helped me to fall in love with the West Central neighborhood, which is one of the most impoverished in Washington," Geiter says.
Geiter was approached his senior year about a position with AmeriCorps Vista placed in the West Central neighborhood working on a general education development (GED) program. He has been working out of the West Central Community Center since September 2016.
"AmeriCorps work isn't necessarily unique, because every AmeriCorps is paired with a preexisting nonprofit," Geiter says. "I have no training in GED services, but I have been given vast experience in managing and developing a program through this job."
A lack of background can also be challenging.
"I didn't know what other organizations were already doing, and when I sought information from them, I wasn't always met with a friendly welcome of my interest," Geiter says.
However, he has discovered the influence of partnerships in community engagement programs.
"The most rewarding part of my experience has been the ability to forge partnerships between organizations that were initially standoffish with each other," Geiter says.
Overall, Geiter views AmeriCorps as a valuable transition into the workforce.
"AmeriCorps has provided tremendous opportunities for me to learn about how nonprofits work and is an amazing opportunity for me to get some real-life experience before I dive into the workforce," he says.