Assistant Professor Kim Gower joined the College of Business faculty this fall and is already inspiring her students. Gower currently teaches two Leadership Theory and Practice (MGMT 425) classes. Each student was asked to commit 15 hours of volunteer time to the organization of their choice. More than 80 students participated and over 1,200 hours were devoted to helping the local community.
“I assigned the project because of the list of things from Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and head of the Equal Justice Initiative, on How to Change the World, Gower said when asked about the purpose of the project. “I have always believed we all have the power to change the world and I was thrilled to see that Bryan had a list of ways to do it. His first point is the idea of Proximity. We often judge situations without really knowing what we are talking about or dealing with because we fail to get close to the situation. As business students and future managers and leaders we often make that same mistake. Volunteering is a way to use experiential learning to help students understand the importance of proximity as they were required to delve into a situation that would help them better understand the value of getting close, and help others in the process. I usually make classes do a term long service learning project, but since the concept was fairly new to UMW and the COB I went with volunteer hours.”
Students made blankets and cards for active military, fostered animals, served meals to the homeless, spent time with underserved youth, sorted food at a food bank, cleaned up local parks, assisted with a veteran resource event, and much more.
Below is a list of organizations where students dedicated their time and talent:
- Fredericksburg SPCA
- Fredericksburg Area Food Bank
- Operation Gratitude
- Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault
- Lions Club
- Richmond Animal Care and Control
- Thurman Brisben Center
- Stafford Parks and Recreation
- Massad Family YMCA
- Fredericksburg Baptist Church
Several students have plans to continue volunteering at various organizations. “I left each time feeling empowered and uplifted,” one student remarked. Several of the recipient organizations reached out to Dr. Gower to express their gratitude.
“Nothing ever surprises me about students, except how surprised they are about their creativity and capabilities. Projects like this, where they need to find an organization, interact with the people and understand their needs and then help solve a problem(s) or need(s) of the organization gives them a tremendous amount of pride and confidence. Students rock. Always have, always will,” Gower added.