August 2012

Promoting Awareness and Wellness (PAWs)

Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.

AUGUST 2012 – CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY AND AWARENESS


Ashford University encourages you to stay involved in your community.

This August, Ashford University is highlighting our opportunities for civic responsibility and awareness. Civic responsibility refers to those actions that are considered socially constructive or beneficial to the community.

Voting - Make it Count

As you are aware, 2012 is an election year, and so we want to clarify some lesser-known facts about the voting process.

Voter Participation in the United States

It is widely believed that, because we are a democracy, the vast majority of those eligible to vote do so; unfortunately this belief is a misperception. While many people might assume that U.S. citizens show up to vote as much as any other country, they actually do so less than the citizens of many other countries. In 2004, only 64% of those individuals eligible to vote did so. That percentage leaves the U.S. ranked number 139 in the countries that have free elections (Clarey, 2008).

One possible reason that so few individuals who are eligible to vote actually do so is the perception that our individual votes do not count. This idea is simply not true. The past several presidential elections have been so close that a few thousand votes could have made the difference in the outcomes of the elections. Local elections are decided by even fewer votes and often have greater implications on individuals than they realize.

Another issue that may keep people from voting is the myth that one must register to vote long before the election. On the contrary, many states have laws in place that enable a person to register to vote very shortly before an election. States are also taking steps to ensure that the process of registering to vote is easier than ever and often requires less effort than people might think. (Clarey, 2008)

With awareness of the impact each vote can have and the ease of voter registration, we encourage you to use your voice. Locate information about voting and how to register in your state.

Get Involved, Stay Involved

There are a number of ways that people can be involved in their community. Volunteering improves communities and positively impacts the lives of those volunteering by providing avenues to engage in meaningful interactions with peers and exposure to projects that may be outside their realm of expertise. These factors can add to an individual’s sense of esteem and boost efficacy.

Here are a few ideas of how to get involved in your community:

Community Gardening brings individuals together, is great for the environment, and comes with a reward every harvest. For more information on how to start a community garden, check out the American Community Gardening Association.

Habitat for Humanity is an organization that fights poverty by building safe and affordable homes. If your call to civic responsibility involves craftsmanship and physical work, visit the Habitat for Humanity website.

Green the Block is a national campaign aimed at helping low-income communities of color address the many environmental issues affecting our cities and towns and become a driving force behind a new clean-energy economy. It is a long-term campaign grounded in regular people like you stepping up to educate and engage our communities so we can effectively join together with our neighbors, community organizations, and businesses to take action block by block! For more information about how Green the Block is revolutionizing urban landscapes, visit their website.

VolunteerMatch While these are all great ways to get involved and make a change for the better in your local area, this list is far from exhaustive. VolunteerMatch is an organization dedicated to pairing individuals who care about their communities with the volunteer opportunity that suit them best. To see a more thorough list of opportunities for you to contribute to your community, visit VolunteerMatch.

Knowledge is Power

One important aspect of our responsibility as citizens that is often overlooked is awareness. Staying informed regarding our country’s laws, practices, and procedures is just as important as voting. By knowing these policies, we can more greatly understand the role we play as civilians, and in turn can more greatly impact government. Please consider how you can use your education to help improve your country as well as your community.

ASHFORD UNIVERSITY STUDENT SPOTLIGHT – DENISE BACON

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government

Denise Bacon’s schedule would have been full already were she focused solely on being a wife and mother. But when her son began school, she saw an opportunity to help sections of her city that were not actively expressing their concerns. She wanted to give a voice to the voiceless, and successfully running for a seat on the Newberg, OR city council has let her do just that.

However, her new position required understanding a variety of issues, and Denise, 44, knew that she could use a degree to better serve her community. The only problem was that she didn’t how university classes could fit in with her busy schedule. Ashford University had a unique solution. “The way that the program is set up, the use of all the great technology that we have today, and the ability I have to work around my schedule are the only reasons that I was able to even think about going back to school.” Ashford’s courses were accessible whenever and wherever Denise’s schedule allowed.

She took right to Ashford’s Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government online degree program, even adding minors in Social and Criminal Justice and Public Administration. These were exactly the focuses she was looking for. And attending Ashford had an almost immediate benefit. “The biggest payoff was when our local newspaper endorsed me over another qualified member because my current course of study would be helpful in my service to the community.”

The newspaper’s announcement was an example of how people in the community appreciate her education. Best of all, she knew that it meant they felt safe trusting her leadership. “The degree helps people to feel comfortable with me and to know that I have the knowledge and expertise needed to move the county forward.”

Denise, who hopes to graduate from Ashford in March 2013, is now looking forward to even bigger opportunities to help her county, as she is now running for Yamhill County Commissioner. Find out more about her campaign and experience on her website. Good luck, Denise!

Resources:
Clarey, B. (Oct. 1, 2008) Ten Best Voting Facts and Myths. Retrieved on July 23, 2012 from: http://www.yesweekly.com/triad/article-819-ten-best-voting-facts-and-myths.html

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