STRIVE impacts local community

Serving not only the University of Miami community but impacting South Florida at large, STRIVE gives students a chance to intermingle service with leadership. STRIVE is not a typical student service organization. The program’s agenda exposes student to a variety of issues, ideas, and viewpoints to allow them to grow as individuals and become active members of society.

“STRIVE really wants people to find and recognize a potential that is their own,” Keith Fletcher, the Director of the Butler Center for Volunteer Service & Leadership Development, said.

Students living on the third floor of Pearson Residential College meet once a week, three Sundays a month, from 4:30-6 p.m.

There the STRIVE students have what they call House meetings.

“House meetings are a time for us to bring the whole group together to focus on leadership skill development and increasing social issue awareness,” Brittany Tedeschi, a student currently serving her third year as a Community Assistant in STRIVE, said. “We bring in outside speakers such as faculty and community leaders, to discuss various aspects of leadership, such as ethics and life balance, as well as educate the students on various social issues affecting their community.”

On the one Sunday a month that STRIVE does not have a house meeting they hold a monthly day of service, where they go out into the community and serve as a group.

“Each group builds a service day where we are in charge of finding the location, transportation and lunch for students,” first-year STRIVE participant Amartha Ogburu said. “It’s challenging getting the hours in because we’re all full-time students.”

Each member of STRIVE commits to eight hours of service, leadership, and civic engagement per week to maintain their membership. Students do sign a contract, but none have ever needed to be released from it.

Every student that participates in STRIVE went through an application and interview process to determine whether or not they will be given the opportunity to contribute to the STRIVE community.

“We’re probably one of the few community service groups that is a family,” Ogburu said.  “We live on the same floor and we’re always in each others’ rooms.”

Second-year participant in the program, Haley Gordon agrees.

“I’m an only child, and so it’s great living together because it’s like a family,” Gordon said.

In groups of approximately five to 10 people, STRIVE members create a social-issues presentations that they present to each other. The participants are encouraged to think critically and become catalysts for social change. Since STRIVE consists of 49 different individuals plus professional staff and faculty, there is an overwhelming amount of networking and resources for students to use to attack their social-issues presentations.

In addition to the House meetings and monthly service, students in STRIVE participate in a matrix/mentoring component.

“In a networking matrix, first-year students meet with different STRIVE upperclassmen each week where they both have the chance to learn more about each other, and help connect first-year students to other organizations, programs, and campus resources they are most interested in,” Tedeschi said.