Juan Meng, Assistant Professor of Public Relations
The Service Learning Fellows Program is a year-long faculty development program that provides an opportunity for selected faculty members to integrate service-learning into their teaching, research, and public service work while becoming recognized campus leaders in service-learning pedagogy and community engagement, according to the Office of Service-Learning.
“This was a highly competitive selection process this year, and we are very pleased to invite you to join this outstanding group of faculty,” wrote Shannon O. Wilder, director of the Service Learning Fellows program, in a letter of congratulations to Meng.
“Dr. Meng's Service-Learning Fellowship is testament to her commitment to experiential learning, and to her willingness to work with a wide array of non-profits in her classrooms and beyond,” said Charles Davis, dean of Grady College. “Her students benefit from the extra effort in bringing real-world examples to Grady College, day in, day out.”
Meng said she’s honored to be a Service-Learning Fellow and looks forward to collaborating with other Fellows across campus.
“It is a recognition of my dedication to a service-learning focus in my teaching,” she said.
Meng will receive a fellowship award of up to $2,500 to be used for developing her project. She and her students over the course of several classes are working with the Family Connection-Communities in Schools of Athens (FCCIS) to centralize information about the multiple free summer lunch programs available for school-age children in Athens-Clarke County.
“We’re not going to be able to change how each program is running, because they get different funding and each takes care of its own program,” Meng explained. “But what we can do is to gather information together. To build a centralized website and ideally launch a mobile application list of all the information about available summer lunch programs.”
The goal, Meng said, is to educate community members about the resources in their neighborhoods and also to encourage them to participate.
“There are 10,000 Clarke County kids who get school lunch during the school year and only 2,000 are getting summer lunch. Those other 8,000—there’s a lot of need,” said Tim Johnson, executive director of FCCIS. “Having the students do what really amounts to a professional campaign…is tremendously helpful.”
Graduate student Molly Berg enjoyed working on the project during Meng’s summer Campaigns class.
“With most classes, you read a textbook. But sometimes you don’t get to see a real-life application,” Berg said. “With this, the first week we could go to the summer lunch sites, see the children, see the parents, see the volunteers. Just looking at it ourselves, we realized participation is low and we can do something to help them out.”
That’s exactly what Meng hopes students glean from her classes.
“The purpose is to help as much as we can to make students realize what they learn in class can generate an impact in the community,” Meng said.