Connecting Town and Gown
Many Southwestern students are passionate about civic engagement, but need help learning how they can become involved with the community in a meaningful way.
Providing that help is the job of Alyson Banda, Southwestern’s new coordinator of civic engagement.
Banda’s job is to help make the many opportunities in Georgetown become accessible to Southwestern students. She hopes to build a bridge between Southwestern and nonprofit organizations in the area.
“Our culture is passionate but disconnected at times.” Banda said. “I want to take the passion and excitement here and push it further into the community.”
With civic engagement being featured prominently in Southwestern’s new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Banda said there has been a greater push for student interaction with the Georgetown community. The big focus for the Office of Civic Engagement is to become more visible on campus and find new opportunities for civic engagement that incorporates the classroom experience.
Banda has been advertising different volunteer opportunities through the Office of Civic Engagement’s Facebook page, and has been meeting with different community and student leaders to find new ways for Southwestern students to engage with the public.
Banda is no stranger to Southwestern. She grew up in Georgetown and graduated from Southwestern in 2009 with a degree in English. After graduation, she went to Malawi through the Marianist Volunteer Program. She spent one year working as a volunteer and a second year working as a librarian at MIRACLE Technical College, which is run by the Marianists.
“My classes at Southwestern challenged me to think more critically about my place in the world and how I could be a responsible citizen,” Banda said. “This led me to Malawi, which led to wanting to continue that vein of community collaboration once I returned to the States. It all just kind of snowballed from classroom theory to personal lifestyle to professional career. I love Georgetown and I also loved my time at Southwestern, so everything has come together quite perfectly!”
Banda is currently taking courses at the University of North Texas to earn her master’s degree in library and information sciences.