Let's Talk UNLV

Join Dr. Scales and Dr. Crabb as they delve into the impactful work of UNLV's Service Learning and Leadership (SLL) programs with their special guest, Rian Satterwhite. From fostering leadership development to providing vital support for students facing basic needs insecurities, such as food and housing, the SLL office plays a crucial role in creating a nurturing environment for student success. Discover how these programs not only address immediate needs but also foster a sense of belonging and community, ultimately empowering students to thrive academically and personally. Explore the transformative stories and learn how you can contribute to this vital initiative.

What is Let's Talk UNLV?

Rebels, tune in to 'Let's Talk UNLV' with Dr. Tanya Crabb and Dr. Sammie Scales. Your express pass to everything UNLV — campus highlights, programs, and the latest buzz. Join us weekly as we chat with student leaders, administrators, and faculty, diving into the core of what makes us Rebels.

The program brings guests from different areas of UNLV every week to discuss campus highlights, programs and services, research interests that are essential to being a Rebel. Let’s Talk UNLV places its emphasis on connecting with student leaders who represent the voice of students on our campus. Guests also include administrators, faculty and staff responsible for upholding the mission of the university, which is teaching, research and scholarship.

Short, sweet, and Rebel strong – subscribe now for the inside scoop!

Unknown Speaker 0:00
This is a k u and v studios original program

Unknown Speaker 0:10
Hello, hello, hello and welcome to another episode of K u and v. 91.5. Let's talk to you in lb with Dr. Scale and myself, Dr. Kraft today we are joined by the most wonderful Brian SATTERWHITE. And, Ryan, as we start with all of our guests. Would you be so kind as to share your origin story with

Unknown Speaker 0:31
us? Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited for the conversation today. My origin story I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and didn't quite know what I wanted to do academically, I went to the University of Arizona for my undergrad attending an anthropology degree. But while I was there, I was in the right place at the right time and got involved with a new leadership development program that they had. And that completely captured my imagination and honestly kept me in school. And so, you know, I had some phenomenal mentors at the time. And introduced me to this field of leadership studies as being a thing and I was immediately drawn in, I've been doing that work ever since. More origin, though, I come from a big extended family. On my dad's side, he's the oldest of seven. I'm the oldest of 17 grandkids on that side of the family. So that's certainly shaped my, my experience growing up children, my dad being the oldest of seven, yeah, seven children. So lots of uncles and aunts and extended family in the Pacific Northwest. So

Unknown Speaker 1:49
my brain automatically went to the dinner table fights. There were only three of us. And if we all liked the leg, you had to be really strategic when you sat down? Oh,

Unknown Speaker 2:00
yeah, yeah, there are legacies of growing up as the oldest of seven that I saw in my dad growing up. So like, you know, hiding that last piece of pie on the top shelf or something like that. Sounds

Unknown Speaker 2:13
like he was part of a prophecy. Seven, son of the seven.

Unknown Speaker 2:20
Tell us how you ended up here at UNLV of all places. Sure.

Unknown Speaker 2:24
So in that undergrad experience, and I was exposed to leadership studies as a field of work. I had some amazing faculty and staff mentors at the time, who took me under their wing and brought me to different professional conferences as a student, and introduced me to the all of the folks that I had on the bookshelf that you know, that I was reading. And I learned that they were real humans, and that they were very kind to humans who were interested in talking with me. And that was a transformative experience. And so I've been doing this work ever since I found my way into a really remarkable job as a first opportunity out of undergrad, I was hired at the University of Falun Gong in Australia, for helping them to develop what ended up being the country's first co curricular Leadership Development Program. And I was out there for three years. And I've been doing similar and related work ever since I was at Kennesaw State University in metro Atlanta for a while, and went back home for a bit at the University of Oregon, before finding my way to UNLV. And what drew me here was an opportunity to build something new. So this office had been envisioned at the time but didn't yet exist. And so they were hiring a director to help bring that vision to reality. And that was a really exciting opportunity.

Unknown Speaker 3:54
So it was great. So you're the director of service learning and leadership. Exactly. What does that mean being a director of service learning and leadership?

Unknown Speaker 4:01
Oh, that's the million dollar question, isn't it? So I have the privilege and pleasure of supporting a team of about 10 professional staff, about nine grad students and about 25 undergrad students. So that's that is what service learning and leadership is. And we have about four different functional areas that we engage the campus and community with under that title of service learning and leadership. One is service learning. And so that tends to be a little bit behind the scenes, but what it means is that we're supporting faculty members all across campus who are integrating community partnerships into their classes. And so there's one to one kind of coaching and consulting work there. There's also some formality in terms of anytime a new course is created or revised on campus. That is indicated as being a service learning class. I review it against a set of criteria that have been established, so that we can formally track and recognize and celebrate service learning across the curriculum here. So service learning is one, but then a lot of our work is outside of the classroom space. And so we create opportunities for UNLV students to volunteer to get involved in the community in all sorts of different ways. And we also do work around voter and democratic engagement. So helping increase our voting rates on campus is the core mission there. We have leadership development as a main functional area. So a range of workshops and retreats, and lunches and other experiences that we offer to help students develop their leadership capacity and understanding of that concept. And then we have a whole branch of our office that we call scholar and student support. And this is supporting some amazing, but historically, traditionally, vulnerable student populations on campus. So we have the hopes hope Scholars program for students experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness, the fostering Scholars program for students coming to the institution with experience in foster care. And what is just exploding out of our office right now is student basic needs. And so we're recognizing that, or our students are telling us really, that there are additional barriers that they're experiencing on a daily basis that impacts their academic success. And so we provide personal hygiene and clothing and bedding and school supplies and food and partnership with the UNLV food pantry to what is now becoming 1000s of students a year. Wow.

Unknown Speaker 6:56
Okay. Well, let's, you talked about voting. So let's talk about voting just for a minute. Yeah. So there, clearly there are students on this campus from all over the United States. So how does that work with trying to get them registered, or those that are registered out of state? Are you getting them to become like Nevada residents to vote as in Nevada, Utah, or in their own states? How does that work?

Unknown Speaker 7:20
It's really their choice. So for several years, now, we've had this platform called turbo vote, which is a nonpartisan resource for students, or really any UNLV community member to either register to vote for the first time, or update their registration to vote if they choose to do that, or need to do that. Or alternatively, if all of that's already taken care of, it can still be an important resource, because you can create customized reminders for yourself. So you get texts or emails, whatever you choose, you know, a week out from an upcoming local election opportunity as a way to not have to track it, but still ensure that you're participating when the opportunity arises. Well,

Unknown Speaker 8:09
that's a fantastic service.

Unknown Speaker 8:10
I've not heard of that. And very timely, in fact, you know, so something else that caught my eye. And it's interesting, because you and I have known each other for a minute. Yeah. And I did not know the full depth and breadth of all the things that you did. I'm like, wait a minute, Australia, wait a minute registered vote. The places in the spaces where you and I have connected in the past have been with the fostering Scholars Program and the hope Scholars Program. So can you speak a little bit about the basic meats program and how impactful that is and why such a program would exist on of all places, a college campus?

Unknown Speaker 8:45
Absolutely. So the UNLV Food Pantry, which is not our operation, is a close partner, and it's been around on campus for a while now, and they do phenomenal work. But what we started hearing from students at about 2018 2019 Was that that resource was very much appreciated, but it may also be insufficient. And so that, you know, food is critically important, but our students were experiencing housing insecurity, transportation insecurity, childcare access issues, inability to access, mental health services, or just daily living needs, around hygiene, clothing, bedding, school supplies. And so we started running what we call take what you need, which is a monthly pop up pantry, where anyone can come and show you an ova current UNLV ID, and literally take what they need. It's set up like a little store. The only difference is that it doesn't cost you anything. And so we distribute 1000s of items every month now to hundreds Have students in that way. So that's our main outreach effort or these monthly events. But we also now provide walking services. So a student can find us on the third floor of the Student Union, and either walk in, or sometimes be referred to us. And we'll do one to one consultations with students any time of year around that work as well. We're really thankful to have US Department of Education federal grant, we're in our first of three years of that funding, which is helping us ramp up this work tremendously. But one of the things that I think surprises a lot of folks is just that this is a need at all on a college campus. And unfortunately, the trends we're seeing here at UNLV are not out of the norm in higher ed, there's data suggests that as many as a third, nationally, a third of us college students are experiencing basic needs insecurities while going through school. And in fall 21, we did our own student body survey that indicated that more than half of UNLV students, the majority of you and at least students, were experiencing at least one kind of basic need insecurity that was a barrier to that to their academic success. A full 20% were experiencing had experienced food insecurity at some point in the last year, and the same percentage had experienced housing insecurity in the last year, we know that we are a part of the solution. There's a lot of different groups on campus working towards these different barriers that students are letting us know about now. But we think that these basic needs are, unfortunately here to stay and need to be really institutionalize the work to to support students around them. You know,

Unknown Speaker 11:54
you made a very, you made a very valid point that that the Miss, the misnomer is that if you're in college, everything's well. And there, a lot of times the focus is on the academics not realizing that Maslow's hierarchy of needs that if those basic needs aren't met, that also serves as a barrier. So I'm really glad that you guys are here and considering those other aspects of learning that are impacted. Thank you. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 12:18
focusing on the entire student as a whole. That is great. Could you speak a little bit more? Is there anything for those students that may have kids at all? Could you speak a little bit up about that? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 12:28
absolutely. So that doesn't come from my office, but I'm familiar with some of the resources available there. So UNLV has another federal grant called see campus, which provides direct funding to support either on campus or near campus based childcare for UNLV students who have that need. And that program has been tremendously successful. It's been around for a few years now. And, of course, we also have our on campus childcare center, which is a tremendous resource for both staff, faculty and students on campus. But I don't know that in any of these categories around basic needs that we might talk about, that there has been a silver bullet right yet, right. We're we're, we're building resources, we're building safety nets. But I think there's more work to be done in every category.

Unknown Speaker 13:21
Fantastic, you

Unknown Speaker 13:22
know, something that that occurs to me as you talk about the whole breadth and depth of the work that you do is its its services inter woven through the entire approximately, you know, so from the beginning to the end. So can you speak a little bit more about what service learning looks like and how you understand and conceptualize service, as you share that with the students,

Unknown Speaker 13:42
Mexican to start from a place of leadership development, since that's kind of my my core professional background, but the oldest question in that field is leadership for what like, why are we talking about leadership? Yeah. Is it about, you know, preparing students for that middle management job in 10 years? Or is it is there something deeper there? And for me, the answer to that question has always been rooted in community. And so even though I kind of primarily identifier on leadership, development, this whole all of the work around community engagement, community building capacity building has been a core part of that experience, too. And so for me, defining service, which thank you for identifying that that is absolutely a common thread throughout all of these diverse areas that fall under this one office. Is is about making the communities that were a part of whether that is the UNLV community or the broader Southern Nevada community stronger, and you know, we continue to find ways to step into new niches there as we identify me And

Unknown Speaker 15:02
you know, what I've noticed his leadership has evolved as well. And leadership now seems to also include service. So it's so to your point, it's not just about who I am and how important I am. And it's what you can contribute. Absolutely, you know, to the greater good.

Unknown Speaker 15:20
Yeah, definitely. You know, for me, really good leadership looks like the person at the top actually getting involved. And actually, you know, passing out the things at basic knees on, you know, take what you need. They're setting up, they're breaking down. That's great leadership, because when those subordinates see you doing it, you know, you're not asking them to do something that you wouldn't do. Yep. So that's great leadership. Let's walk on over here into because you talked about fostering scholarship programs also. So can you provide more insight into the specific support and programming offered by UNLV, fostering scholarship program to assist individuals who have experienced foster care in the transition to university life? And throughout the academic journey?

Unknown Speaker 16:06
Absolutely. Yeah, we're really excited with the launch of the fostering Scholars Program in 2021. And this is actually a case of the state leading the way. So is the Nevada System of Higher Education that first created the foster youth fee waiver a few years prior, which is a tremendous resource for any student who has been in foster care in Nevada, after the age of 13, is the criteria. And it can really help alleviate a lot of the costs of of a higher education experience. But it also created the need for campuses to help ensure that students were actually taking advantage of that new resource. And so the fostering Scholars Program was created, modeled after the Guardian Scholars Program in California and elsewhere that have, you know, really been leading the way for decades now in that work. And we wanted to be the first in Nevada to to create a dedicated supportive resource community for this particular population. And we're really excited that we were able to do that we've had phenomenal support from community partners like the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, who has been a funding partner for us for years. But our success has led to others and it has helped pave the way. So you and are now has a program TMCC has an initiative, CSN is talking about it. So there's now a statewide community focused on supporting this population in Nevada. That's fantastic.

Unknown Speaker 17:41
So it sounds like there's been a bridge built from high school, the students coming from high school into maybe the community college or directly into UNLV. So there is something there for the

Unknown Speaker 17:50
students. Absolutely. Yeah, we have a direct relationship with both the county, the city and the school systems, who are already who can already identify what students might qualify. And as they transition into UNLV, we can get a warm handoff, and we'll help welcome them. You

Unknown Speaker 18:08
know, as you speak about that warm handoff and that transition. I'm I'm mining of the Hope Scholarship Program. And there's the overlap. Absolutely. That exists because I have a really close friend who was a foster youth who also was homeless. Once the season is over, then people leave and people who don't have a place to go to often fall into this category of hopeless of homelessness. So I'm somewhat familiar with the hope scholar because I was on the advisory board. But can you share a little bit about that population and what the purpose is of the hope Scholar Program? Sure.

Unknown Speaker 18:42
So hope scholars was founded in 2016 as really a personal passion project from then the Director of Housing and Residence Life here who heard from students against student driven need and response for a program idea here, who heard from students that those not living in the halls were struggling with homelessness, and at a at a rate that surprised a lot of folks. And so he, rich Clark all credit to him for getting that program off the ground. And then when we when he was looking for a home for it, as my office was as I came on board to UNLV, about that time and my office was being created, we took it on and helped really institutionalize it. So so far, it's a small population that we're able to serve because the program is funding limited. But currently, we have 15 students in the program we've graduated helped graduate. We can't take credit, it's all their work. But we have helped seven students graduate from UNLV who are experiencing homelessness and with many more in the pipeline. That's, that's a success story that I'm really excited to share as much as I can about because that program is near and dear to my heart. We also know I just want to be transparent that we're by no means meeting the need on campus with with those numbers, and that there are many other students who may otherwise qualify. But we are continually working for additional funding so that we can expand that support.

Unknown Speaker 20:26
Excellent. Now, you know, I love a good story. So would you be willing to share some of the stories I've had the privilege of meeting some of the students in the program, and I know that their stories are powerful and transformational? And are there any particular stories that stick with you, as you think about fostering scholars and hope scholars?

Unknown Speaker 20:48
Yeah, you know, one of the principles we operate by is, is letting students tell their stories and opt in, so I'm not going to use any names here. But there are amazing stories that come from both of these programs. I'm thinking of one student in particular, who really blossoms and to such an extent that they graduated and continued on at UNLV to complete a master's degree, and has really taken on a leadership role at a state level in terms of advocating for policy and funding for these public for these, these students in this population. And, you know, that is not our doing that is her doing. But we were thrilled to be able to provide a stable and supportive environment, and guaranteed housing for the duration of of her degree so that she was able to take those steps. And just to see what what all of these students are striving for, and achieving along the way is remarkable.

Unknown Speaker 21:59
Let me ask you one last question from my end, if money wasn't a problem, so you where I'm going, right? So if money wasn't a problem, what would you like to see with this program?

Unknown Speaker 22:14
I would like to be able to not have any hesitation in accepting any student who qualifies for this program, I would just like for that to not be a factor. And we're far from that reality right now. But it is a place that we can get to because we've seen models at other institutions get to that kind of a place. I think that one of the big things that we do with fostering scholars hopes scholars, as well as our basic needs work is destigmatize these experiences. Oftentimes, for any individual going through them, there couldn't be a natural assumption or perception that I'm the only one, right that that no one else is having this experience. No one else is struggling in this way. No one else is thinking about dropping out for these reasons when we know the data shows us. And our experience now shows us that nothing could be further from the truth. And so normalizing basic needs insecurity, normalizing housing insecurity, normalizing having experienced in the foster care system is so essential to create an environment that students find welcoming, and supportive, and engaging, which is what we need for them to succeed here. And so as much as I'd love to increase numbers, and funding to not be an issue, I think that's the larger goal. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 23:45
I love that one of the things that you said, that was unspoken, but spoken was also the sense of community, and the sense of belonging, you know, I'm not alone. And I have people who can identify in with my experiences, and I know, from past experience, that the support that you provide is is very holistic. You know,

Unknown Speaker 24:05
it is and that's our primary mission, you know, with fostering scholars, for instance, step one is making sure that they're taking advantage of the NC foster youth fee waiver. But then there's 15 steps after that in terms of helping to build community and helping to build skills to be successful here. But a lot of that comes down to belonging, and a sense of belonging and having a helping students find community. That's a big factor across our work. And in fact, I think a lot of our students involved in our service and volunteerism find community in that process. Our students around leadership find community in that process. And we know that success in higher education is heavily impacted by identifying as belonging at the institution that you're at connection

Unknown Speaker 25:00
is connection is huge, you know, we don't, we don't recognize that, like, say we're pack animals, you know, and connection is how we survive. So I really appreciate that you noticed that and that that's something that's important for this population. So, you know, as we dwindled down in our time, I guess there are a few things that we want to make sure that people are aware of one is how to get ahold of you. And if you have any social media how to follow and then the biggest and best part, how to support this wonderful work that you're

Unknown Speaker 25:32
doing. Absolutely. So most importantly, for students most find us through social media. And so we are most active on Instagram, but you can find us with the handle at UNLV S L L, for service learning leadership. So UNLV SLL, on most platforms. We also invite, as I mentioned, with the basic needs program, but across any of the areas of interest, just walk ins. So we're located on the third floor of the Student Union, we share space, with student involvement activities, student diversity programs, and the Undergraduate Student Government area. But we also have an independent office that is directly accessible. And so if kind of navigating a front desk is intimidating, or a barrier for anyone, you can just find this in su 309. And walk in and ask any questions that you might have. And we'd love to talk with you.

Unknown Speaker 26:32
So in terms of support, how, how can the community support you? How can the university support you? This is your moment. Oh,

Unknown Speaker 26:41
well, it's funny. I joke some days that grant writing and donor relations is like 70% of my job these days, even though it's the 5% of other duties as assigned. And so if anyone is is interested in supporting us, I think, you know, you can find me Ryan SATTERWHITE, at UNLV, or our general email for the office is sll@unlv.edu. Either way, I'd love to have a conversation, whether it's an individual interested in supporting this work, or an organization who's interested in forming a new relationship

Unknown Speaker 27:24
was great. In closing, what would you like the public to know those that are listening? What would you like them to know about the program now, as a wrap up?

Unknown Speaker 27:36
I'm proud to be at UNLV because of the work that we do. You know, there's so many things at this institution that make it that make it a phenomenal place for learning that make it a phenomenal place for partnership and community engagement. And I'm, I'm really glad that SLL was playing its role in doing that work. I think that as I spoke to earlier, if I could leave a message here, it's about normalizing some of these barriers to success. And recognizing that that doesn't mean that an individual student is ill prepared or, you know, shouldn't be here by any means. I think it's more about the institution coming to terms with the additional support structures that we need to step up with, to ensure their success. So I think we're moving in the right direction there.

Unknown Speaker 28:31

Unknown Speaker 28:32
You know, I heard this incredible quote, it's, it's, it said, it's not I made the right choices, it's that I had the right choices. So privilege speaks to a lot of it, you know, and so for the students that are coming in that feel like they're not able to do this, it's likely because you didn't have the opportunity and the support. And I'm really glad you're here to offer both.

Unknown Speaker 28:55
Well, we have an amazing team doing great work. And I hope I'm fairly representing everyone here.

Unknown Speaker 29:01
Right. Well, thank you so very much for joining us and sharing all of this wonderful work that you're doing my pleasure.

Unknown Speaker 29:11
I really appreciate you being here. Thank you so much.

Unknown Speaker 29:12
Thank you both so much. Absolutely.

Unknown Speaker 29:15
And that is a wrap.

Dr. Renee Watson 29:19
For more or less talk UNLV. Be sure to follow us on social media where you can get the latest updates on the show plus great behind the scenes content. We're on Facebook and let's talk about all the podcast Twitter and let's talk UNLV and Instagram at let's talk UNLV

Transcribed by https://otter.ai