WSU Students Celebrate Year of Community Service

OGDEN, Utah –Weber State University students will share what they’ve learned during a year of community-based volunteer work and research, including a major survey of inner-city Ogden families conducted in conjunction with Ogden United Promise Neighborhoods.

The community is invited to the Sixth Annual Community Engagement Symposium sponsored by the Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) on April 16 from 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater and Fireplace Lounge. The keynote speaker, author and activist Rye Barcott, will speak at 11:30 a.m.

A number of posters will be on display during the symposium, including from two students sharing the WSU experience working with various aspects of Ogden United Promise Neighborhoods (OUPN). The OUPN project is a commitment to transform the United Way of Northern Utah, Ogden School District, Ogden City government, Weber State, healthcare providers, local agencies and donors into organizations that can better serve the Ogden community.

The posters of Nicci Spjut and Corbin Standley will highlight the work of 60 students who surveyed 718 households in inner-city Ogden to learn the families’ current status and needs. They also organized 15 focus groups with parents, service providers, teachers and other community stakeholders. They researched health care, economics and education interventions to inform OUPN’s coordinated strategy of helping children succeed from cradle to career.

"The Community Engagement Symposium is a way to celebrate and showcase some of WSU’s best and brightest community-engaged students,” said Brenda Kowalewski, CCEL director. “They will share reflections on what they have learned from experiences in the community and what needs to be done next. As with most things, having an opportunity to teach someone what you know helps you learn."

The event’s keynote speaker, Rye Barcott, knows what it takes for college students to make a major difference in a community. In 2000, while still in college, Barcott spent part of the summer living in 10-by-10-foot shacks in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. His friendship with a widowed nurse and a community activist led to the creation of Carolina For Kibera, a non-governmental organization created in a volatile region that helps develop new generations of leaders from within.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Barcott served for five years in the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq, Bosnia and the Horn of Africa. He then earned master’s degrees in business and public administration from Harvard University. In 2011, the World Economic Forum named Barcott a Young Global Leader. In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed him to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board as a representative of the veteran community. He will sign copies of his book, It Happened on the Way to War, at 12:30 p.m. in the Fireplace Lounge.

"Rye Barcott is the model of what we are trying to inspire in our own students — living a life of community engagement," Kowalewski said.

To learn more about Barcott, visit
Visit for more information about the Community Engagement Symposium.

Brenda Kowalewski, Center for Community Engaged Learning, director
801-626-7737 ·
Cozette Jenkins, University Communications
801-626-7948 ·