Incoming Auburn University Students Participate in Poverty Simulation

People participating in poverty simulationMany incoming Auburn University freshmen participated in a poverty simulation on Monday, August 11.  The event was sponsored by Alabama Possible, the Auburn University Honors College, and the Auburn University Office of Public Service.  It provided an eye-opening experience for many of the incoming freshmen.  During the simulation, students assumed roles of citizens living near and under the poverty line.  They learned the difficulty of managing funds when money is scarce, and they also discovered the consequences of not paying bills.  For example, the simulation featured mock evictions to show the students what happens when rent and mortgage payments are People participating in poverty simulationnot on time.  Additionally, it helped the students realize the difficulty of managing a plethora of responsibilities, such as children and work, when money is limited.

The goal of the simulation was to provide insight regarding the way in which thousands of Alabama citizens live on a daily basis.  The simulation provided the students a unique perspective on life that should raise awareness on the important issue of poverty.poverty simulation material

CCE Alumnus Attends the 2014 Higher Education for Democratic Innovation Global Forum

Written by Marian Royston, AU CCE Alumnus.

Queens UniversityThe Higher Education for Democratic Innovation Global Forum 2014 (HEDI 2014) was held at Queen’s University Belfast from June 25-27.   The forum was an international conference organized by a host of organizations, including the Council of Europe and the U.S. Steering Committee for International Consortium for Higher Education.  As a current student at Queen’s and a strong proponent of all things related to civic engagement and democracy, I eagerly registered for the event.

HEDI 2014 brought together a host of different actors in the field of higher education and democracy from around the world.  There were university presidents, student affairs professionals, faculty members and a few students in attendance.  This mix of individuals created a unique environment with many different perspectives represented.  As one of the few students Emblem(and possibly the only American student), I believe that the student point of view could have been better represented, but I understand that students are under stronger budgetary constraints than the other delegates.  Nevertheless, I believe that the conference was very timely and important considering the current challenges that we as a global society are facing in regards to democracy.

The topics of the plenary sessions ranged from discussions about social inclusion, university engagement with communities and the role of technology to name a few.  Every topic, however, fit into a larger conversation about the need for democratic innovation.  Democratic innovation refers to the need to adapt democracy to meet the needs and challenges of a rapidly changing world.  As one speaker pointed out, we are, for the most part, using 19th Century Institutions to address 21st Century problems.  If we truly believe in democracy and want it to have a place in the world, then democratic innovation is very necessary.  After establishing the need for democratic innovation, the real question remained—what role should higher education play in such innovation?

RainbowThe question of higher education’s place in society is one of the great debates of the modern era.  But, for the delegates of HEDI 2014, the answer is clear.  Democracy needs education in order to thrive.  Therefore, institutions of education—from primary to post-secondary—are “citizen factories.” So, institutions of higher education should be highly obligated to ensure that students receive an education that prepares them to be citizens of the globalized society in which we live. 

When chewing on that food for thought, I find myself overflowing with pride as and Auburn Community and Civic Engagement graduate.  Surely programs like Living Democracy are a shining example of what universities can do to innovatively prepare the next generation of global citizens.

Former Mentor Attends BTW Graduation

Auburn University student Beth Givens at BTW in Tuskegee graduationWritten by Beth Givens, AU student.

Being back at Booker T. Washington High School on May 23, 2014 felt so right and familiar. Though I had mentored and become dear friends with several of these students in 2012, eight months studying abroad and traveling in Europe had put some distance between those relationships. Thankfully, I was able to keep up with several students during my time abroad. These continued friendships are evidence to me of some of the rich fruit of the Macon County Youth Development Program. A few weeks before graduation, two seniors, JaNae McNeil and Evelyn Hooks, sent me invAuburn University student Beth Givens at BTW in Tuskegee graduationitations to the ceremony. I was so pleased to attend and watch JaNae, the Valedictorian of her class, Evelyn, Sukari Baldwin, Simaya Moore, and several other of our students walk across the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas. 

Congratulations to the Booker T. Washington graduating class of 2014! I’m so glad I can be a tiny part of your lives.Auburn University student Beth Givens at BTW in Tuskegee graduation

2014 RISE UP Summer Academy Visits Auburn

Written by Blake Evans, AU Graduate Assistant.

Students talking with Auburn University instructorA group of Montgomery-area high school students participating in the 2014 RISE UP Summer Academy met with Auburn University instructor and PhD student John Hall on Friday morning to discuss their college plans.  The RISE UP Summer Academy is a program that concentrates on preparing Montgomery students for college through ACT test preparation, college visits, and many other preparation practices.

Rise Up Summer Academy talks to Auburn University instructorJohn Hall, part of the University’s Political Science Department, provided words of wisdom to the students before answering their questions.  He began by stating that one of the most important characteristics of a successful college student is excellent class attendance, advice that he repeated frequently.  Unlike in high school, college students cannot rely on frequent parental guidance to remind them to attend class and complete assignments.  Rise Up Summer Academy talks to Auburn University instructorInstead, students must learn to correctly prioritize their lives and schedule their time appropriately.  Hall continued to say that if students would be diligent about how they disperse their time, making sure to accomplish their most important goals first, college would not be overwhelming.  In fact, superior time management can increase the amount of fun that students have.  Hopefully, Hall’s words of wisdom will be remembered by the students as they enter their college careers.

Glenn Huddleston: Icon and Example

By Mark Wilson

Lowery McNeal, Glenn and Helen, Shaye McCauley

Lowery McNeal, Glenn and Helen, Shaye McCauley

For the past five years, I have led a group of students to the Clearfork Valley of Tennessee as part of a course on community and civic engagement.  Each year the experience of living and learning in an Appalachian community has its own adventure–the year a group of us were stuck on a mountain till way past dinner time; the time two of our guys accidentally burned huge holes in our community partner’s picnic table; the year students talked me into rescuing three puppies.

IMG_1196But the warm hospitality of our friends in the small communities surrounding the Clearfork Community Institute never changes.  So it’s with heavy hearts we grieve the loss of a friend.  On Saturday, May 24, 2014, our good friend Glenn Huddleston passed away. For Glenn, the visit of college students was a real treat, and the feeling was mutual.  Glenn would always share about growing up in the valley, moving away for work, and then moving back for retirement.  This past year was the first time I heard him sing. He played and sang several songs for us, many that he wrote himself, including one unforgettable number about the love of his life, Helen.


Mary Afton Day and Glenn

He didn’t want us to return to Auburn at the end of the week. “Here’s what you do tomorrow,” he said on our last day. “Cough real loud and tell them you can’t make it back because your sick. We’ll go riding in the mountains and you can go back later.” I wish we could go back and visit with Glenn one more time.  He leaves behind his beautiful wife Helen and countless friends, a number of whom wear orange and blue and consider their time with him a gift of immeasurable value.


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Notasulga STEAM Garden Ceremony

Written by Blake Evans, AU Graduate Assistant.

On Tuesday, Notasulga students unveiled their STEAM Garden during a ceremony for their school and community.  The Mayor of Notasulga, Mr. Tommy Miller, along with other citizens from Town Hall, gathered with students to celebrate the new space.  More information on the space can be found by clicking here.

Also, the following video and pictures document ceremony.

Notasulga High School STEAM Garden Ceremony Invitation

Written by Blake Evans, AU Graduate Assistant.

Notasulga ProjectMany students at Notasulga High School have been working to create what they call their STEAM Garden.  STEAM stands for Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.  To create this space, they have worked with each other, their teachers, and members from Auburn University to create a space inspired by values that their school and community consider important.  The space consists of mosaic tile benches, decorative stepping stones, and planters made from wooden pallets.  For more information on the development of the STEAM garden, please visit three earlier blog posts, “Notasulga High School Students Present to Town Council,” “Notasulga Students Work to Connect School with Community (April 1, 2014,” and “Notasulga Students Work to Connect School with Community.”

The students have decided to unveil their project on Tuesday, May 27, at 9:00am in front of their school.  They will host a short ceremony, and the entire community is invited.  We hope you decide to attend the event.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Blake Evans, Auburn University Graduate Assistant, via email,, or phone, 334-224-3499.