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USCU FALL15 Magazine Online

CHANGING LIVES, IMPROVING COMMUNITIES Service-Learning is making real world impact on people’s lives As an accounting major, Chandler Galloway '16 expected to gain real world experience helping people file their income tax returns. However, she never anticipated making real world impact on people’s lives. Galloway, like many other accounting majors, donate their time to VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) as part of a credit-bearing course each year at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics. The program assists specific populations – including people who earn $54,000 or less, have a disability, and the elderly - with preparing tax returns. The VITA program filed $670,000 in tax returns for 570 clients free of charge last year, according to Michael Wooten, adjunct business instructor who supervises the VITA program at USC Upstate. The results have been astounding. “Nothing in the classroom can prepare you for sitting across from real people,” explained Galloway. “We aid the elderly who don’t know how to use computers to file tax returns. We find tax breaks that they didn’t even know existed. It’s a beautiful project that many people in the community are grateful for what we do.” Clients who have previously paid a week’s salary to have their taxes prepared are so grateful that they are often left speechless. Some have tears of joy rolling down their faces. This project, like many others across the USC Upstate campus, are being coordinated by the newly established Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement (OSLCE) that launched this summer. The intent of OSLCE is to cultivate strong reciprocal relationships between USC Upstate faculty, students and community organizations with an outcome that provides meaningful service-learning opportunities for students outside the classroom that is of great benefit to the community. Misty Dillard '14 saw first-hand the difference her student project in an upper-division Spanish course of translating documents made for a child abuse program in Greenville. Now she works for a homeless shelter in Spartanburg translating documents about programs and services that will help people served by her agency. “There is a whole population of people in Spartanburg who are being overlooked and they don’t know about resources and services available to them,” said Dillard, who plans to provide Spanish translations at the VITA program this year. “We want to help them succeed, and this is my way of aiding in their success.” “Service-Learning and Community Engagement has created this beautiful collaboration among Academic Affairs and Student Affairs and it united this effort among voluntarism with academics,” said Dr. Clif Flynn, interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We are getting calls from community organizations about needs they have, and we are able to respond to help fulfill those needs.” Kara Ferguson, co-director of OSLCE, explained, “Our students are being given seats at the table, and that is highly empowering for them. They are making significant contributions in the communities in which they grew up.” Bettering their communities is an extremely attractive offer to USC Upstate students, the majority of whom are from the Upstate region. They are giving back to others while they are learning, and they can see visible results. “Having a coordinated effort of service-learning assists us in recruiting new students. We can tell them they can come to USC Upstate and use newly developed skills they will acquire while working towards their degree to help the communities they love,” said Dr. Abe Goldberg, co-director of OSLCE. For more information, contact Dr. Abe Goldberg at 864-503-5670 or agoldberg@uscupstate.edu or Kara Ferguson at 864-503-5433 or kferguson@uscupstate.edu. BY TAMMY E. WHALEY Misty Dillard ’14, left, Chandler Galloway ’16 and Dr. Abe Goldberg, co-director of the Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement, recognize the benefits of giving back to the community through service-learning opportunities. Fall 2015 Upstate Magazine 10 


USCU FALL15 Magazine Online
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