Eastern's Ayers receives Community Leader award
Community engagement director honored by state school administrators, Cheney School District
Molly Ayers has made an impressive start in her short time at Eastern Washington University.
New to EWU and Cheney in the last year, Ayers, the director of community engagement has received the Community Leader Award from the Washington Association of School Administrators and the Cheney School District.
Under her leadership, hundreds of EWU students have committed to serving the community in a variety of ways from the Eagle Volunteers Program, Feed Cheney as well as course-based community service projects. "The position involves getting students out in the community, but also connecting community needs to available resources," Ayers said.
Formerly an assistant director for eight years of a similar program down the road at Gonzaga University, Ayers said to start a whole new program at Eastern has been pretty exciting, she said. "The Eastern community has been wonderful, there's a lot of heart there."
EWU's Office of Community Engagement had just opened and Ayers saw this as an opportunity to captain her own community involvement ship.
Through the Eagle Volunteers Program alone, more than 70 Eastern students have been placed within district schools as part of a mentoring program. EWU mentors commit up to two hours per week to serve as positive role models to at-risk youth. Ayers singles out AmeriCorps volunteer Gabby Ryan for her efforts in the success of this new program.
"She's been the one who has gotten the mentoring program going and gotten that partnership off the ground." There are also five student leaders that assist in the program.
The best part of Ayers' job is to coordinate the many resources EWU has and help direct those to community needs.
According to an EWU news release, the goal of the office is to connect the campus to the community through reciprocal partnerships with the goals to enrich student learning, address community needs and foster a culture of civic responsibility.
Part of the future in the program includes the planned implementation of Certificate of Community Engagement. "That would be on the academic side," Ayers said. "They would be able to study leadership in terms of being able to make positive community change."
The program would involve serving in internships and volunteering at least 100 hours in the community, she explained. The program is not a major or a minor, Ayers said. "A certificate is actually added to a transcript when they graduate."
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.