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Student leaders attend IMPACT Conference on civic engagement

Published on March 08, 2023

Student leaders attend IMPACT Conference on civic engagement

Student leaders in CCE shared civic engagement ideas at the IMPACT Conference.

Attending IMPACT from Eastern were (l to r) Brandon Martin from Jumpstart; Lexie Mastroianni, program coordinator for the CCE; and student leaders Amanda McFarlin, Olivia Gardner, Amilya Williams, Nicole Leyner and Nariayah Mazyck-Alegria. Student leader Alyssa Tracey also attended.

Six student leaders at the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Eastern Connecticut State University attended the recent IMPACT Conference on civic engagement for students from colleges around the country.

IMPACT brings together students and administrators and nonprofit professionals to share ideas and practices and exchange strategies. It is the largest annual conference on civic engagement of college students in community service, advocacy and social action.

Some 400 students from around the nation attended this year’s IMPACT, held at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, said Lexie Mastroianni, CCE program coordinator.

Amanda McFarlin, a psychology major who leads CCE student volunteers working at the Windham No Freeze program, said attending IMPACT gave her insight into how important advocacy and resources are for those experiencing homelessness.

“I was able to learn things that I can take back to my community service and also my future career,” she said. She plans to become a social worker.

A workshop on transportation injustices gave her insights into who uses public transportation and the need for more of it, she said.

She also learned about the importance of selfcare for those working in community service. “Being a student leader and a full-time student, I learned that it is key to do things for yourself along the way,” she said. In one workshop, the students practiced group meditation.

Nicole Leyner, a sophomore majoring in early childhood education and English, leads the Natchaug after-school program for the CCE and a girls’ mentoring program in Canterbury. She attended conference workshops on social justice and advocacy.

“Overall, I learned how to be more empowering as a leader, and how we can empower others while leading them,” she said. “We heard stories about how you can go from so little to so much, and how to use what you learned to help others.”

Olivia P. Gardner, a sophomore, said one of the most meaningful workshops she attended was on public transportation. "I am on track to teach English for secondary education, and I plan on teaching in low-income communities that heavily rely on effective bus routes. This conference educated me on the importance of these bus routes and gave me the facts I will need to take to my community to ensure the needs of my future students are met and exceeded," she said.

A sophomore psychology major, Amilya Williams, is a CCE student leader working with the NAACP youth and college division. She said the workshops on becoming a leader and learning the do's and don'ts of advocacy were helpful. She plans to continue her advocacy work on behalf of students of color at Eastern.

"I left the conference feeling very empowered," she said. "I loved seeing people my age come together and hearing what it is they do on their campuses to advocate for change."

"IMPACT was also a great bonding experience for my fellow student leaders that accompanied me on our trip," she said.

Written by Lucinda Weiss