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We are Servant Leaders

As a Catholic, Marianist university, UD offers numerous programs that serve communities both near and far. Support of these programs enables students to transform lives — including their own.

UDSAPUDSAP at the park

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program is one of the University’s most notable service programs. Offered through Campus Ministry, UDSAP features an annual nine-week summer trip to the Appalachia community of Salyersville, Kentucky, in which 14 students immerse themselves in the Appalachian culture and build meaningful relationships with residents.

During their stay, students leave behind modern conveniences like technology and experience the benefits of living a much simpler life. They connect with and aid community members by running a youth day camp and teen center. They also regularly visit local families and nursing care facility residents.

Recent UDSAP participant Megan Kroger ’17 noted the impact of the program on the community: “I think being there to listen and mentor these kids and teens was important because it allowed them to have an outlet and a person they could trust to talk to. And the residents of the nursing home loved having us there to listen, as well.”

However, students always walk away with much more than they give. “What we did for the people down there is nothing compared to the many things we learned from them about meeting people where they are, loving others and being present to others,” explained UDSAP participant Ben Ziegler ’18.

James Vanek ’17, who also participated in UDSAP, said, “Since coming back from UDSAP, I’ve found myself having more genuine conversations, hugging a little tighter, and focusing on the here and now. I also learned that by slowing down and living in the moment, I am so much more able to see all of the beautiful things God is doing for me today.”

Brother Tom Pieper, who has been the UDSAP program director since 1999, knows that donors are at the root of UDSAP’s continued success. “We could not put this program on without donor support, including prayerful support. They are helping students expand their education beyond the classroom to really be able to live out the Gospel of helping those in need, but in a unique way: by building relationships and friendships … walking with the people of the Appalachia area. The experience is life-changing.”

MalawiMalawi Research Practicum

UD’s impactful service experiences go beyond our backyard — even venturing overseas. One such program is the Malawi Research Practicum. Sponsored by the Human Rights Center, the program enables students to spend eight weeks living, learning and serving in the northern region of Malawi, Africa, one of the most poverty-stricken countries on Earth.

Students work closely with Determined to Develop, a nonprofit charity in Malawi. Matt Maroon ’06 founded and directs the charity, which aims to uplift the people of Malawi through programs focused on education, orphan care, women’s empowerment, health and the environment.

During their time in Malawi, each student conducts a research project focused on a critical human rights or development issue, such as water security in rural settings or secondary education needs. In collaboration with Determined to Develop and local community leaders and organizations, students’ research projects provide valuable analysis to help determine the best ways to improve life for Malawians.

Malawi Service

Students conduct fundraising to help with the cost of the program, but donor generosity also provides vital funding.

Megan Herr ’16 participated in the program in the summer of 2015, conducting a research project on the impact of westernization and globalization on rural countries like Malawi. Herr said, “Being there not only teaches you to appreciate what we have here, it gives you a better worldview. So, you can appreciate problems and understand what you hear on the news. For instance, it’s hard to imagine people not having access to clean water when it’s so readily available to us. Just things like that. And then to be able to give back to the community … it was the experience of a lifetime.”

Programs that transform communities and teach students the true value of service. Marianist values in action — all made possible with donor support.


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