Home : Student Life : Community Engagement


Jeri Suarez
Associate Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement
(540) 362-6382


Honor Roll

What students say...

"Being a SHARE volunteer has not only taught me values, responsibility, and dedication, but it has given me so many rewards such as knowledge, friendships, and unforgettable memories."


"The last two weeks have been so important to me. I gained knowledge and appreciation for Roanoke and stepped outside my personal bubble to do something worthwhile. I think it's important for students to volunteer and help others. You can gain knowledge you can't gain anywhere else."


"I was doing something selfless and helping others, something that has always been important to me."


"The Appalachian Service Project gave me a chance to learn about a culture and people that I didn't really know anything about, and is right in my own country. You get to do a variety of service projects, with different age groups of people, and all of the projects are so rewarding. You end up learning so much about the importance of community from the people you meet, and it really makes you re-evaluate your own ideas about what's important. This was a very gratifying and humbling experience."

Community engagement at Hollins

Community service

Hollins has a long-standing commitment to community service. Many of our students come to college with experience in service work and an interest in linking with the local community during their years at Hollins. There are a variety of opportunities for involvement. Student volunteers may choose to live on campus in the Sandusky Service House. This community-service house is a "home with service as its foundation." Students who live here are required to perform at least 10 hours of volunteer work per month and promote service activities on campus and in the community. Hollins offers a variety of academic courses that incorporate an element of service. Some courses allow students to choose the service option over another project, while others require community service projects.


The Corporation for National and Community Service

The Corporation for National and Community Service has again named Hollins University to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts and service to America's communities. Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service learning courses.

Hollins has a long-standing commitment to community service both locally and internationally and offers a variety of opportunities for students to get involved, including:

  • Living in the Sandusky Service House, where residents are required to perform at least 10 hours of volunteer work per month and promote service activities on campus and in the community.
  • Participating in one of several academic courses that incorporate an element of civic involvement within the curriculum that takes students into the Roanoke Valley.
  • Spending Spring Break helping an impoverished community in Jamaica, where students teach in the school system, work with the local infirmary, and refurbish community buildings.

The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation, in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.


Service-learning programs

Service-learning programs integrate traditional course work with community service, assisting students in learning academic concepts with the value of civic involvement. At Hollins, there are service learning opportunities at the local, regional, and international levels.



Day of Service

"Day of Service" is a segment of first-year orientation that provides an opportunity for new students to volunteer for a three-hour service experience in the Roanoke Valley. Projects may range from landscaping to working with children to spending time with the elderly. It allows our students the opportunity to link with their host community during their first week on campus. It's a great way to learn firsthand about the agencies we serve on a regular basis throughout the year. Video »


SHARE Olympiad



S.H.A.R.E. (Students Helping Achieve Rewarding Experiences) is a peer education group dedicated to recruiting volunteers and spreading awareness about community service opportunities in the Roanoke Valley. The student staff coordinates the placements at a variety of agencies and organizations within the local community, including the areas of education/youth, elderly, medical and crisis intervention. They also offer a variety of one-shot activities on a monthly basis that focus on a specific project and in some cases, raise funds for local organizations. It is a great way to get to know new people on campus and in the community. Come S.H.A.R.E. with us!

S.H.A.R.E. Free Store is a community building project that also serves as a marvelous example of campus-wide recycling which students use on a regular basis both as contributors and shoppers. Students donate items they don't need and may shop for items they can use and it's all for free!

(photo, above) President Gray and students with "check" for Roanoke Area Ministries Soup Kitchen. 16 teams made up of students, faculty, and staff enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon to play some games on Front Quad - all for a good cause.)



Appalachian Service Project (not offered every year)

Students are offered a variety of academic courses that incorporate an element of service within the curriculum. For example, "View Appalachia through Service Learning," a January Short Term course taught by Jeri Suarez, associate dean of cultural and community engagement and Professor of Spanish Alison Ridley, provides students with an in-depth view of the cultural aspects of the Appalachia region and serves as a platform for the service project to West Virginia in a coal mining community. Guest lectures by Hollins faculty and staff, as well as members of the local community, reinforce the theories of service learning and build a historic, economic, and cultural context.



Jamaica Cultural Immersion Program

The Jamaica Cultural Immersion Program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013, takes place in Lucea in Hanover Parish on the Northwest Coast of Jamaica. Hollins stands out as one of just a few colleges in America that organizes annual service trips to Lucea. Since the program began in 1988, more than 400 Hollins students, faculty, staff, and community members have taken advantage of this opportunity to experience the Jamaican culture and to complete service projects. Qualified students have an opportunity to apply for the Jamaica Service Project as an alternative spring break.

During the day students work on a variety of community-based projects that are often tailored to match each student's individual talents. Projects range from teaching in the school system to working with the local infirmary to refurbishing community buildings. All of the projects are designed to encourage better understanding of another culture.

Another distinctive aspect of the program is that participants do not stay in hotels. By living with a host family, each student experiences the life of local Jamaicans. Hollins is committed to keeping fees low for this program, and scholarships are available. It is open to qualified Hollins students in all classes and disciplines. The director of the program will also work as a consultant for other colleges that wish to organize similar service projects.