January 20, 2018

Serving during Welcome Week at Cuyahoga Community College

In early September I traveled for six days to make three speaking/training engagements. I started out on September 8 flying to LAX from Atlanta, changed planes, and then on to Boise, ID. From there, I drove for roughly an hour across the Snake River into Oregon and to Ontario, OR. I did a leadership/team building day for SGA leaders, Residence Life, and college Ambassadors. When I was done, I drove back to Boise, flew to LAX, and then flew all night, Wednesday into Thursday, to Atlanta. Oh no, I did not get to go home, instead I changed planes and flew to Cleveland.

I stayed in Cleveland Thursday night and then drove to Erie, PA and an advisor’s program on Friday afternoon followed by a packed house of around 140 students at Gannon University for a full day leadership retreat. It was awesome! That was followed by a quick drive to Cleveland’s Hopkins Airport and a flight to LaGuardia for a Campus organization Leadership Training (COLT) program at a student leadership conference on Sunday at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn.

This blog is not about any of those programs, but, rather, about what I did on my “off” day in Cleveland on Thursday, September 10. I had sent out an email to schools in the Cleveland-Erie corridor letting them know I would be in the area and available for a program on that Thursday. Well, one of the schools that I have previously spoken at, Cuyahoga Community College-East Campus, could not schedule me, but their Director of Student Life and Athletics Rita McKinley invited me to come by their Welcome Week activity that day. It was a cookout with a DJ and caricature artist. I thought this would be fun and a great way to spend my night (rather than just sitting in a hotel), so I agreed to come by. Little did I know what was actually in store for me!


When I got on campus, I found Rita and she took me over to the cookout area, and introduced me to her assistant, Melvin. She told him who I was and that I was there to help…serve food! After deftly picking my jaw up off of the ground, so no one noticed, I said, “Yup, that’s right, put me to work.” And he did! So, for the next couple of hours I served Italian Sausages and corn dogs to the hungry new and returning students (and faculty-they love free food, too!). When I wasn’t serving food, I walked around and talked to students and told them about the free caricature artist (gotta make sure they take advantage of the “free stuff” that they actually pay for through their student fees). The artists were Diana Handley and Roland Naploi from WeAreFun.com. And they were great. The students really appreciated the sketches.

There was also an awesome DJ, Freddie James of Freddie James Djs. He kept the music going and the students were dancing and having fun. One student, Janice, danced while she was in line for the caricature, for the food, and everywhere in between. I tried several times to get her on video and I finally did in the clip that accompanies this blog.

The most surprising thing to me of the night was that it took the Campus Police about an hour to show up for the free food! But, boy did they make up for it when they found us. I never saw so many hot dogs, Italian Sausages, and corn dogs consumed by so few people!

I got to meet some other staff members, including Angie and Mynette, who work in the Student Life office. I really got a sense that these professionals have a servant’s heart and love their students. The cookout was the culmination of three days of Welcome Activities. On Tuesday, the clubs and organizations got to show their wares with tables, a balloon artist kept everyone entertained, and students got to make t-shirts with their own funny sayings on them. Wednesday had a motivational speaker who specializes in study skills–always important! It was a really great way to start the school year, and, as a community college it was fun for the whole family. A number of students brought their kids by to get something to eat and get their caricature done. I enjoyed meeting them and the “night students” who usually do not get a chance to participate in things going on campus due to work and family obligations.

It was really awesome for me to be called on to serve and to dive in and do it and have fun. I believe that service to others is one of the most valuable things we can do. It was a great way to spend a day off. Who knows? Maybe I can serve hot dogs at your school, too!

Please share your welcome activities and ideas in the comment section below and in that way you can be of service to other campus life professionals.

About the Author: Dave "Gonzo" Kelly (64 Posts)

Dave Kelly is the leading authority on student leadership and community service on college campuses today. As a professional trainer, motivator, and servant leader, Dave is an expert on all aspects of running and leading campus organizations and developing the character of a servant leader. Dave has 20+ years training leaders and advisors from student government associations, campus activities boards and campus clubs of every kind on organizational leadership and community service projects. He has trained students and advisors at more than 150 different colleges and universities and is the national coordinator for the APCA Serves! Initiative by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

I want to invite Dave Kelly to my campus to speak to our students!

Just give Dave 5 quick pieces of information below and he'll get back to you. Thanks in advance.
NOTE: All form fields are required.
My School
My Name:
Enter the name of the person we should contact at your school.
My Email:
Enter the email address of the contact person on your campus.
My Phone:
Enter the U.S. area code and phone number of the contact person.
Proposed date of my training:
Enter the possible date of your campus event.
Type the text you see into the box so we know you're a person and not a spambot!
Type the text you see into the box so we know you

Share your comments with us...