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Alumna and Community Service at EIU

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PLS Alumna Alison Maley

Political Science Alumna Alison Maley (B.A., 2002; M.A., 2010) was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of the Eastern Illinois Alumni magazine, in an article that focused on the legacy established through her role in starting Panther Service Day. The interview conducted by EIU News Room Specialist Elizabeth Edwards provides clear evidence of Alison's role in pioneering this innovative community service activity.  We also learn about Ms. Maley's ongoing involvement in public service at the state level along with her advice for today's generation of Political Science majors.

With special thanks to Ms. Edwards, we have included key excerpts from her alumni magazine article.

 

Alumna Reflects on Service Day Legacy: Panther Service Day grows into lasting campus event

By: Elizabeth Edwards

More than 10 years ago, Alison (Mormino) Maley imagined a community service day dedicated to the Charleston community.  She imagined a day focused on bridging the gap between students and Charleston residents where students would give back to the community they loved.  Maley never imagined her dream would transform into a lasting part of university life and become a fundamental part of EIU’s community service initiative.  Today, Panther Service Day has more than 500 volunteers lending a helping hand with projects from making fleece blankets for the elderly to cleaning up trash in the community. Now, as an alumna, Maley reflects back on the service Day, her years at Eastern and her life after graduation.

Where did you get the idea for a community service day for EIU students?

As a high school student, I participated in an event called “Bucket Brigade” where community members would paint houses for needy individuals in the community. When I ran for EIU student body president, I decided I wanted to bring this event to Charleston and to our students. I thought this type of project would be good way to build a stronger relationship among students and the community.

Tell me about the first year of the event called “Bucket Brigade.

We painted seven houses in Charleston with the help of more than 150 volunteers, including members of Student Government, hall councils, Greek organizations, a service learning class from Charleston High School and members of the Wesley United Methodist Church. My strongest memories include driving around, delivering brushes and supplies, and even going to Mattoon to buy more painting supplies for volunteers.

Tell me about student/community reaction to the first day?

I think the response was very positive. With the support of the Charleston City Council, we applied for and won a Governor’s Hometown Award for our efforts.

Did you envision your service day lasting more than 10 years with more than 500 volunteers attending the event in the spring?

I really hoped it would. I knew the project was in good hands with my friend and successor as president, Caleb Judy ’04. Caleb changed the name from Bucket Brigade to Panther Service Day in the following year, which makes it unique to EIU. I have to also give a great deal of credit to Rachel Fisher, Director of the Office of Student Community Service, who has since expanded the project into much more than just painting houses.

Tell me about the other projects you worked on as student body president in the 2002-2003 school year.

I researched the possibility of on-campus child care and a renter’s bill of rights for students living off campus. I also worked with University Union officials and housing to open 7th Street Underground (the former Rathskeller) as an entertainment programming venue, and I worked with athletics to revive the “Blue Crew,” a student spirit organization.

What did you personally take away from serving as student body president?

Time management. You can make a full-time job out of being student body president, but it was important to balance office work with my academics. I also learned how to build relationships and work in groups because, as student body president, I worked and collaborated with students, administrators, board members, faculty and staff.

Tell me about your career after graduation.

I graduated from Eastern with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2002, and a master’s degree in political science in 2010. I currently serve as governmental relations/public relations director for the Illinois Principals Association. Primarily, I lobby on behalf of our members and school leaders, track state and federal legislation important to educators, and communicate weekly legislative updates to our 4,600+ members.

What is your advice to students? What is your advice to political science majors?

My general advice would be to explore all available opportunities. Go on a study abroad trip, join a registered student organization you never thought of joining, and take classes that seem intriguing even if they are outside of your major requirements. For political science students, I would encourage them to get involved with a campaign and start building their network.