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The 4th Annual Community Engagement Day celebrates the strong bond between the University of Utah and the community that gives it home. Get involved and connect with your community.

By Annalisa Purser

The entire University of Utah campus community is encouraged to participate in the fourth annual Community Engagement Day celebration, April 29. A variety of engagement opportunities are available throughout the day and are designed to connect the campus to the community it calls home.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to celebrate the many ongoing ways our campus and community engage,” said Sandi Pershing, co-chair of the event. “We are so grateful to the many volunteers—students, staff, faculty, administration and community partners—who come together to make amazing things happen in our community and on our campus every day.”

In the morning, the U will welcome nearly 1,000 sixth-grade students from 10 Title I elementary schools in the Salt Lake school district for the annual Project Youth event. The students will hear from U President David Pershing; Sandi Pershing, assistant vice president for engagement; Brian Rasmussen, director of university marketing; a member of the football coaching staff; several football players; Infrared, the U’s contemporary a cappella group; Swoop, the mascot and more. Then they’ll live like college students as they participate in workshops across campus taught by faculty volunteers.


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Volunteers needed
Student volunteers will accompany and mentor a small group of sixth-graders by sharing their personal college experiences as they attend a welcome assembly, participate in faculty-led workshops and eat a pizza lunch on the Union lawn. There will be a volunteer party following the event at Tanner Plaza, between the Union and Student Services buildings. Volunteers are still needed. Email to sign up today.

Faculty and staff presenters are needed for Project Youth next year, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Volunteer presenters provide interactive, visual presentations that will excite and engage sixth-grade students. Presenters will give two 35-minute classes, 10:30-11:05 a.m. and 11:40 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Contact Rhiannon Nuismer at if you’re interested in presenting during Project Youth 2016.

“Visits to campus expose and encourage students of all ages to pursue higher education because success in college can never start too early,” said Sandi Pershing. “Project Youth allows students to participate in engaged-learning that enriches their knowledge of a subject, instills in them goals to work hard in school and allows them to meet and interact with college students who will inspire them to continue their educational endeavors.”

Whether you’re already volunteering with Project Youth or not, there are a variety of additional opportunities to get involved throughout the day:

Red Butte Garden
9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Natural area (10-40 volunteers), floral walk/rose garden (10-15 volunteers)

Volunteers will pull weeds and spread mulch to prepare these areas for the summer season. Participants are encouraged to sign up in advance by emailing and need to arrive promptly at 9 a.m.

11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Campus walking route

A drop-in walk-a-thon gives employees and students a chance to enjoy the spring weather, and all are encouraged to donate to the Community Engagement Scholarship. The money raised from last year’s walk-a-thon provided four $2,500 scholarships, and the recipients will be recognized at this year’s Project Youth assembly. To join, find the checkpoint closest to you.

Arts and advocacy student poster presentation
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Marriott Center for Dance plaza

Teresa Molina, professor-lecturer in the College of Social Work, and Juan Carlos Claudio, from the Department of Modern Dance, have teamed up to teach a seminar about the role and use of the arts in effective social, political and environmental advocacy. They will share the findings from their involvement with local community partners, including the Road Home’s Palmer Court, the University Neighborhood Partners Hartland Partnership Center, Neighborhood House and National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah.

Bennion Center: Service Corner
2-4 p.m.
Bennion Center, Union Building, Room 101

Come to the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center to knit a hat for infants at Primary Children’s Hospital or write a letter to a U.S. solider.

Alumni Association: School supply assembly
2 p.m.
Alumni House, 155 Central Campus Drive

Come help the MUSS board fill backpacks with school supplies for children who need them. The completed backpacks will be donated to local organizations.

Alternative Breaks: Staff partner info session
2-3 p.m.
Union Building, Room 319

The U’s Alternative Breaks program sends teams of students to distant communities during school breaks to connect them with volunteerism and experiential learning while promoting holistic wellness and lifelong connection to service. U faculty and staff can join these trips as mentors. This info session will discuss how university staff can get involved by mentoring a student leader as they put together a service trip for fall or spring break.

Chalkboard pledge
2 p.m.
Union plaza

There are countless ways to be involved in the community, and the U invites you to pledge to be more engaged in community service by writing down your service commitments on a giant chalkboard at the Union Plaza.

Marriott Library: Hygiene supplies and baby items for the Road Home
Marriott Library east entrance

Collection bins at the Marriott Library have been available since March 1 to collect hygiene items for the homeless. Items needed include toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo, tissues, hand sanitizers, combs, socks and feminine hygiene products. On Community Engagement Day, April 29, staff, students, and community members are encouraged to bring additional donations and are invited to assemble the packages, which will be delivered to the Road Home. This project is part of the walk-a-thon route, so take a break from walking to assemble a kit.

College of Law: Immigration Q&A
5:30-7 p.m.
Horizonte, 1234 Main Street, Fifth floor auditorium

The College of Law’s pro bono initiative is offering a free Q&A session about immigration law with volunteer attorneys. The focus will be on recent changes within the law, citizenship, documentation status and visa issues.

Annalisa Purser is a communications specialist at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at