Student Spotlight: Chico State’s Town Hall 2.0
By Selma Betten, Public Relations Intern, Office of Civic Engagement, Chico State University (Calif.)
Chico State’s Office of Civic Engagement promotes, strengthens, sustains, and recognizes civic engagement initiatives that are consistent with the strategic priorities of California State University, Chico. We believe in respectful mutual partnerships with the broader community that foster socially and environmentally responsible students, faculty, and staff. We work to engage students and faculty throughout our 12-county North State service area.
Students become more engaged scholars and gain confidence about their capacity to do meaningful work when they have an opportunity to share their research in public dialogues with interested others. The bi-annual CSU, Chico Town Hall Meeting provides students with a public arena for discussing current policy issues with other students, faculty, and community members. Students research and prepare talking points for topics such as immigration, freedom of speech, and homelessness, and receive feedback on their ideas from community consultants. Afterward, they write an action plan based on their conversations at the event.
This activity has shown to have such positive impacts for Chico State students that we want to share this opportunity with communities in our region. Town Hall 2.0 was an idea hatched by Karyn Cornell, a student in the Masters of Public Administration program. The goal is to enlist college students to mentor high school students in other communities in the North State, using all of the civic engagement skills they had learned as participants in the Town Hall meeting. Along the path of researching and developing a project proposal, Karyn was introduced to Amy Rhoades, an undergraduate in Social Work working on her honors project. Amy attended Salisbury High School, a Red Bluff continuation school, many years ago as a teen mom. She credits the staff at the school for seeing her potential and helping her graduate high school. At the time, Amy didn’t think college was an option for her. Now, for her honors project, Amy wants to return to her home community and support more students from Salisbury in getting to college.
When Karyn and Amy met to discuss their shared interests, they decided that Town Hall 2.0should make its stage debut at Salisbury and the principal of the high school, Barbara Thomas, agreed. Town Hall 2.0 is designed to provide young people from North State communities and Chico State students the opportunity to interact and learn from one another. The goals are to provide all student participants with skills in collaboration, research, and community engagement, and potentially encourage more young people to attend college and then return to their communities to continue their civic work. The hope is that Town Hall 2.0 will be coming to other North State communities in the future.
Selma Betten is a senior majoring in Business Marketing at Chico State University. She grew up in San Francisco, and decided to attend Chico State in 2014 because of the college atmosphere and top rated business program. At Chico State, she is involved in American Marketing Association and the the Seufferlein Sales Program, where she competed and placed 3rd in the Sweet Sixteen Sales Competition. She has studied abroad in both Spain and Italy, and has traveled to over 16 countries. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, and playing with her dog.
You can follow CSU Chico’s Office of Civic Engagement on Facebook here.