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FGCU, instructor recognized for civic engagement

FGCU continues to reap accolades for its commitment to service-learning and community engagement.

Florida Campus Compact has recognized Courtney Satkoski, an instructor in integrated studies and director of the Leadership Through Service Live-Learn Community, with an Engaged Scholarship Faculty Award. The university also won the Campus-Community Partnership Award for its work with The Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida.

Courtney Satkoski

Florida Campus Compact is part of a national coalition of college and university presidents committed to the public purposes of higher education and to helping students develop the values and skills of active citizenship through participation in community service. FGCU has been a member since 2000.

The awards were presented Nov. 16 at the annual Campus Compact Gala in Winter Park. FGCU student Noelle Stone also was recognized as a Newman Civic Fellow; her award was announced last spring at Community Engagement Day. Fellows are nominated by college and university presidents and chancellors to acknowledge motivation and potential in public leadership.

“It’s another great year for FGCU,” said Director of Community Engagement & Service-Learning Jessica Rhea. “This recognition confirms that we consistently demonstrate our ability to improve community life and to instill the values of civic and social responsibility in our students.”

Over the years, several individuals as well as programs have received special Campus Compact recognition. Last year FGCU was awarded Engaged Campus of the Year in the State University System for the third time in eight years, while Stone received the Student Excellence in Service Award and Service-Learning Coordinator Katharine O’Connor won the Community Engagement Educator Award. In 2015, FGCU’s Wings of Hope environmental education program won the Campus-Community Partnership Award.

This year’s Campus-Community Partnership Award recognizes the success of a strategic collaboration between FGCU’s Leadership Through Service Living-Learning Community and the Quality Life Center in Fort Myers coordinated by O’Connor. “The Q” strives to strengthen and instill pride in family and community through programs that cultivate self-development, teach self-discipline, build confidence and promote cultural awareness.

Raliyah Dawson and Chuntell Robinson are part of the Leadership Through Service Living-Learning Community, which organized the Survive and Thrive 5K and Obstacle Run to benefit The Quality Life Center.

In the 2015-16 school year, students living in FGCU’s service-focused residential community mentored and tutored youths in reading and math at The Q, created service teams to better meet the nonprofit agency’s needs and collaborated with center’s staff to develop new programs including Body Builders Against Bullying, the Shooting for Success Photo Project and the College Readiness Project. In 2016-17, they also planted a community garden that feeds area residents and organized a 5k run that raised $13,000 to send Q youths on an educational trip to Washington, D.C.

“FGCU and The Q seek to benefit the community by discovering solutions to real-world issues while providing meaningful service opportunities to FGCU students to enhance their educational experience,” Rhea said.

The partnership has had a significant impact on Q participants, according to Jan Sommer, the center’s research and development analyst:

  • 76% of youth who completed the afterschool and/or summer camp increased their math skills or maintained an A or B grade level.
  • 95% of youth who completed the afterschool and/or summer camp increased their reading skills or maintained an A or B grade level
  • 84% of youth who completed the afterschool and/or summer camp increased their knowledge and demonstration of positive behavior, teamwork and social skills.

Campus Compact faculty honoree Satkoski is also an FGCU alumna, having earned a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2004 and master’s of public administration in 2007 — and thus a shining reflection of The FGCU Effect.  She serves as a role model of engagement for students through her leadership on campus and in the Southwest Florida community. In addition to teaching and overseeing one of FGCU’s special-interest residential communities, she serves as a faculty adviser for four student organizations and works with more than 200 students a year on service projects. Off campus, she serves on the boards of the YMCA and Hunting for a Cure and is president of the parent-teacher organization at the elementary school her children attend.

Satkoski was singled out for recognition among nominees from throughout the Florida State University System (SUS); state colleges and independent schools are recognized in separate categories in the Campus Compact awards.

“They look at how you engage students in the classroom and how you and the school take engagement from the classroom into the local community,” Satkoski said. “Through my experience and connections in the community, I’m able to coordinate the students with the needs in the community. That makes it easier for students to commit to a project and stick with it. Service is a powerful opportunity for students to gain experiential knowledge.”

FGCU requires undergraduates to complete at least 80 hours of service-learning, but many are inspired to dedicate far more. Service-learning is integrated in the compulsory “University Colloquium,” an environmental and sustainability course, as well as more than 250 courses across many disciplines. Eagles volunteered 319,783 hours in 2016-17 for about 300 organizations locally and abroad, adding to a cumulative total of more than 2.5 million hours since FGCU opened its doors in 1997.