#CSNAP17 challenges students to be change agents

December 11, 2017

On November 18, more than 230 college students from 28 colleges and universities gathered for the 2017 CSNAP Student Conference, hosted by Winston-Salem State University. The event marked its 25th year convening North Carolina students to network and share ideas related to community service, volunteerism, and civic engagement.

#CSNAP17 attendees enjoyed a full day of learning, including hearing from several local “change agents” representing different “civic pathways” to making social change. Rebecca Byer, founder of a Winston-Salem glass blowing studio called the Olio, shared the story of how she became a social entrepreneur. Marcus Hill shared his work as a community organizer with the Forsyth Community Food Consortium. The day ended with remarks by Khaetlyn Grindell — Warren Wilson alum and former CSNAP attendee — who spoke about philanthropy and her work as a fellow with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Following a welcome by WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson, the conference’s opening plenary gave students a chance to explore their civic pathway using the “Social Change Wheel.” Breakout sessions featured twenty-four student-led workshops on a variety of social issues and community service program models. A few examples:

  • Students from Wake Forest University’s Campus Kitchen Project led a workshop describing a new cooking class for kids;
  • UNC Charlotte’s “Not In My City Project” shared local efforts to combat human trafficking;
  • Students from Western Carolina highlighted their campaign to advocate for online voter registration in NC;
  • UNC Pembroke students and staff delivered a workshop on event planning & marketing 101.

During a lunch-time awards ceremony, some students were recognized for outstanding community service. Twenty-three students received the Community Impact Award, which recognizes one student from each member campus. Brian Wuertz, a senior from Warren Wilson College, received the John H. Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award, which recognizes one undergrad student in the state. Wuertz was honored for his commitment to environmentalism and service, including leadership of the Eco-Team, a student group that delivers environmental education lessons in local elementary schools. Two NC State University students — Asia King and Fri Momin — also received a special award — the Marshall Alternative Break Scholarship. Given by Aaron Marshall, a young alumnus of Western Carolina University and a former Trailblazer Award winner, the scholarship provides $250 to support a student’s participation in an “alternative break” experience.

The conference program includes workshop descriptions and award-winner profiles.

The conference kick-off on Friday night was designed to showcase the host campus Winston-Salem State University. The evening featured performances by a WSSU staff member in the role of university founder Simon Atkins; the Burke Singers, a student a cappella group; and drumming by the Healing Force, a local family of singers, storytellers and musicians who perform in the West African tradition. WSSU’s SGA president Javonty Hunter emceed the evening, and Miss WSSU Jordan Reaves delivered remarks on the role of black colleges in the community.

The CSNAP conference — which stands for “Citizenship, Service, Networking, And Partnerships” — started in 1993 as a regional conference organized by a group of community-minded college students called the “NC Campus Volunteers Coalition.” The conference is traditionally held in early November and is hosted each year by a different campus in the NC Campus Compact network. The host campus for the 2018 will be announced next spring.

(Photos by Kenny Brock)