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Westminster lacrosse player posing on the field with their gear

Student-athletes make an impact through service

by Claire Prasad (Honors '18)

In between their classes, training, and games, student-athletes at Westminster University also participate in and lead various service projects on and off campus. The service component of the student-athlete experience has always been a requirement to participate in athletics at Westminster. However, many student-athletes far exceed the requirements. In 2023 alone, Westminster’s 249 student-athletes completed over 500 hours of service work[HEH1] .

“Community engagement and outreach are annual priorities for our athletics program. We encourage student-athletes to do more by getting involved with other opportunities,” says Shay Wyatt, director of the athletics program. “These efforts play an important part in the overall student learning experience and teach life lessons with regard to civic engagement and time management. I commend the volunteer work that our student-athletes do annually.”

The service projects that student-athletes participate in are vastly different and range from single-day events—such as the November 2023 Maui United Way fundraiser preceding the men’s and women’s volleyball games—to recurring projects involving partnerships that have existed for years.

Sydney Sims (’26), an undeclared major and a thrower on the track team, is involved with Promise South Salt Lake, a years-long partnership with Westminster that provides community and youth programming in the city of South Salt Lake. Sydney is part of the Walkways to Westminster program, which pairs elementary school students in the Promise South Salt Lake program with a student mentor.

“As a mentor, I am a trusted adult whom students can rely on that isn’t their parent or teacher,” Sydney says. “I help students with homework and help them learn more about their options for the future, but I'm also a person that they can relax and be themselves around.”

Teuila Nawahine (’26) also has experience working with youth in the Promise South Salt Lake program. Teuila is a public health major, captain of the women’s basketball team, and a student worker in the Dumke Center for Civic Engagement. In spring 2023, Teuila planned and executed a Spring Sports Day with support from the Dumke Center. Elementary school students in the Promise South Salt Lake program came to Westminster University and played different sports under the direction of Westminster student-athletes.

“The Spring Sports Day combined my two passions: my work at the Dumke Center for Civic Engagement and my love of athletics. It was wonderful seeing my idea come to life,” Teuila says. “If students come to us at the Dumke Center with an idea for a service project, we will help them carry it out.”

The service component of the student-athlete program allows students to build connections with their communities, both on and off campus. It also allows them to participate in years-long campus traditions, such as the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, when elementary school students in the Promise South Salt Lake program come to campus to complete service projects with the help of Westminster students.

Student-athletes also keep campus lively with innovative ideas for service projects. In fall 2023, the men’s lacrosse team hosted a car-wash fundraiser to raise money for the Purple Basket, Westminster’s on-campus basic-needs pantry (read more about Purple Basket).

 “One of my favorite things about Westminster is that I have a great support system,” says Teuila. “Even though I’m a student-athlete, I’m a student worker, and I participate in service projects on top of my classes and schoolwork, I always feel supported by my teammates and community here.”

Julie Tille, the director of the Dumke Center for Civic Engagement, appreciates the ingenuity of the student-athletes and their deep commitment to their service work.

"The Dumke Center for Civic Engagement deeply appreciates the partnership of Westminster University's athletic program and celebrates the creative and consistent efforts displayed in their community engagement projects,” she says. “I have been so impressed with the commitment and level of engagement of the athletes. The student-athletes are passionate about engaging in the community to share their skills and time, but also in enhancing their learning as students."



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.