DWU welcomes McGovern Center director Alisha Vincent
Monday, December 9, 2013
Plans underway for new, exciting experiential learning opportunities through Center
Dakota Wesleyan University welcomed Dr. Alisha Vincent as the director of the McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service and assistant professor of leadership over the summer, and her energy and enthusiasm for community and civic engagement has already been passed along through her students.
Vincent joined the staff in August and hit the ground running as she endeavors to revitalize the leadership and public service major at DWU with new opportunities to engage students in applying classroom learning to meet real-world needs. These experiential learning opportunities involve students in service to local and regional nonprofits, help them discover ways to develop their own nonprofit organizations, encourage them to speak out about important policy issues, and create innovative events to draw awareness and raise funds for local charities.
Student groups in her leadership and public service class this semester have learned important leadership lessons by organizing projects including a golf benefit for a local cancer support group, a hunger banquet, a public relations capacity-building project for the Mitchell Weekend Snack Pack Program, and an upcoming art auction for the Abbott House. As Vincent continues at DWU she hopes to use her own background in nonprofit development to connect students and the community. Two seniors, Kelli Swenson, of Chamberlain, and Chase Kristensen, of Plankinton, are working with Vincent and DWU alumnus Thomas Madut to develop a nonprofit aimed at building a primary school in Madut’s home country, South Sudan. In addition to teaching and engaging students in local projects, Vincent will also take a group of students to Africa this summer to work on food security and education projects in Rwanda and Uganda, Africa, with Crimson Academy and a nonprofit she founded, Esperance Education Institute.
“George McGovern cared deeply about engaging people in opportunities to make a difference. I am honored to be a part of an institution of faculty, students and community members who are dedicated to carrying out George’s legacy of service,” Vincent said.
“When we connect the classroom to community needs in our local, regional and global communities, I feel that we are honoring his memory as well as giving unique learning experiences to our students. Whether students’ passions lie in being involved with nonprofits, politics, or even for-profit organizations, the experiences we are now offering and will continue to develop in the future, will give them valuable tools to navigate life and be servant-leaders as they further their education and take on careers.”
Prior to joining DWU, Vincent served in higher education and as a nonprofit consultant. Vincent recently founded a global nonprofit organization called Esperance Institute, the mission of which is to help under-educated adults acquire occupational skills and career assistance through short-term educational classes. This year programs will be offered in Rwanda, Chile and Ethiopia. During her travels she has also assisted Water Our Thirsty World (www.ourthirstyworld.org) with the implementation of water chlorine devices and helped establish a livestock program to sustain low-income families in rural Rwanda.
“Growing up on a farm south of Chamberlain proved helpful in working with the school headmaster at Crimson Academy to buy 16 goats and a cow and develop a plan to sustain their care,” she said. “The parent-teacher organization and I selected the families in greatest financial need in the school and gave them a goat. They will raise the animal and once the animal has offspring they will give the primary animal back to the school to offer to another family. The best part of the project has been witnessing the pride and ownership taken on by the PTA and community who are now sending reports on whose goat has produced and how the animals are helping feed families, boost incomes, and improve the community.”
Vincent is now working with DWU’s Universities Fighting World Hunger group to expand and sustain the livestock project. Students traveling to Africa this summer will spend time working on the project. The donation site, Livestock for Life, can be found via the McGovern Center’s website, www.mcgoverncenter.com, or directly through this link: https://give.dwu.edu/livestock.