On Saturday, Aug. 25, 15 SOE students in the M.A. in Higher Education volunteered to participate in a community outreach project through M Partner with Patrick Perry, director of the UM Luckyday Program and instructional assistant professor of higher education.
The group picked up trash and painted structures in the Park Along the River in New Albany, Mississippi.
“A group of around 15 of us piled into cars and headed off to New Albany where we had our first experience with the university’s M Partner initiative,” said first-year, graduate student, Caroline “CC” Chace. “I was so eager to volunteer because I wanted to learn more about the communities that make up the state of Mississippi. I believe the best way to understand a person is to look at where they start—their home. As a student affairs professional, I need to understand the students that I am surrounded by and that starts by looking at where they could be coming from.”
M Partner is a new community engagement effort that seeks to improve the quality of life in three Mississippi communities: New Albany, Charleston and Lexington. This partnership between the university and surrounding communities is part of the university’s comprehensive strategic plan to promote healthy and vibrant communities. What exactly this initiative looks like varies in each community, but overall, it includes everything from community conversations around economic development and health education to beautification projects to marketing materials to drive tourism and community involvement.