More than 20 students sort items at a food bank.
Augusta University students volunteered at the Golden Harvest Food Bank in April 2024. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

Jaguars give back to the greater Augusta community

From donation drives to volunteering at food banks, Jags jumped into action this spring to give back to the greater Augusta community. 

The Office of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement spearheaded numerous service opportunities for Augusta University students, staff and faculty throughout the 2023-24 academic year, culminating in a series of service activities and award ceremonies in April, which was National Volunteer Appreciation Month. 

“Our campus is part of the community,” said Tina Baggott, associate vice president of Volunteer Services and Community Engagement. “We are not an island, and it’s important that we build strong, collaborative, lasting and meaningful relationships. We know that our students are not going to be on campus forever. We want them to graduate and go out into the community and be productive citizens.” 

In fall 2023 alone, students tallied 12,130 service hours on JagPulse, a community engagement platform launched in 2023. The platform has aided in the university’s goal of achieving the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement by 2026. While the spring’s final count is still being finalized, the impact has already been felt across the region. 

Golden Harvest Food Bank 

In April, AU students volunteered at the Golden Harvest Food Bank, labeling food contents to assist in distribution to families with dietary concerns. The students packaged 192 boxes with more than 11,520 items. The effort helped Golden Harvest Food Bank support more than 350 agencies around the Augusta River Region in their collective mission to end hunger and food insecurity. 

Paws 2 Give Donation Drive 

The Paws 2 Give Donation Drive took place across six different campus locations over a span of five weeks. In that time, the Office of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement collected nearly 400 articles of clothing for the Augusta Dream Center and 173 toiletry items for AU’s Open Paws Pantry. 

Learn more about the campus pantry and how to donate.

Four women stand together in front of the Augusta Dream Center with a large cart filled with bags of clothing.
Students dropped off donations at the Augusta Dream Center following more than a month of collecting clothing. [Photo provided by the Office of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement]
2024 Community Engagement Awards 

The Augusta University Community Engagement Leadership Council proudly recognized four members of the AU community with its inaugural Community Engagement awards this spring.  

“We have some outstanding faculty, staff, students and community partners who are really doing wonderful work,” Baggott said. “These awards gave us the opportunity in a formalized way to recognize them publicly, which will get others excited about engaging with community partners and serve as a ripple effect. We want more and more people to think about ways to integrate community-engaged practices in their work.” 

Faculty Award Winner: Pam Cromer, DNP

Michelle Cox-Henley, DNP, department chair of the Doctorate of Nursing Practice program in the College of Nursing, nominated Pam Cromer, DNP, in recognition of her efforts to provide accessible health care and information to wide-ranging audiences. 

“She has made numerous sustained contributions in the areas of engaged community learning,” Cox-Henley said. “Over the course of several decades, Dr. Cromer has developed several large community projects and has expanded these initiatives to include interdisciplinary students and colleagues from numerous colleges across Augusta University.” 

Cromer, professor in the College of Nursing, has led several large community projects, including the Costa Layman Health Fair and Women’s Clinic, the Healthy Grandparents Program and most recently, the Horizon Motor Coach Outreach Clinic, now in its second year. 

Staff Award Winner: Alison Rohdy

AU Marketing Director Taylor Lamb nominated Alison Rohdy, brand strategist and trademark and licensing coordinator, for the staff award in recognition of her “unwavering commitment to fostering genuine connections between Augusta University and the surrounding communities.” 

Rohdy, who has worked for AU for more than 17 years, helped establish the new Augusta University-inspired mural located on the corner of Reynolds and 11th Streets in downtown Augusta. The mural brought together roughly 40 faculty, staff and students to design and paint the new mural, which made its official debut in March 2024. 

Community Partner Award Winner: Jenkins White Elementary School 

As of spring 2024, approximately 180 Augusta University students have engaged in interprofessional learning and collaboration with students at Jenkins-White Elementary School.  

“Our partnership has grown from site-based teacher education courses and field experiences that began six years ago to now include: community-based, interprofessional learning and research; site-based internships and practicums including AU students from the College of Allied Health Sciences, College of Education and Human Development, (COEHD) and Medical College of Georgia; and service-learning experiences,” said Kim Barker, PhD, associate professor in COEHD’s Department of Teaching and Leading. 

Two college students talk with a child in a classroom during a learning activity.
Augusta University students lead kids through innovative learning activities at Jenkins-White
Elementary School. [Courtesy of the Jenkins-White Elementary School Facebook page]

Jenkins-White Elementary School, led by Principal Sharro Usry-Wilson, EdD, also collaborated with Augusta University for the university’s 2023 Days of Service, offering creative AU students, staff and faculty the chance to paint murals at the school or to contribute to a children’s book drive. 

Jags Jump In Student Award Winner: Danila Dokuchayev

Erin Boyleston, program director of dental hygiene, described Danila Dokuchayev as the “epitome of a servant’s heart.” 

A male college student observes as a young boy uses an oversized toothbrush to brush the teeth of a puppet.
[Provided by Danila Dokuchayev]

“Danila has been a true champion for service and for our program,” Boyleston said. “He inspires others. His drive and passion are infectious, and I think that his classmates get from him that willingness to help. I have not met another person who has been this involved and who wanted to know everything that he could do to leave the program better than he found it.”   

Dokuchayev, an undergraduate student majoring in dental hygiene in the College of Allied Health Sciences, has participated in various student organizations and served as class president. His volunteer efforts include collaborating with outside community organizations to provide oral hygiene products and to educate individuals about dental hygiene, such as the Augusta Community Festival and Winter Wonderland. 

Interested in nominating a future community engagement winner?  You can get more information about community engagement programs on the Community Engagement page.

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Written by
Jennifer Lask

Jennifer Lask is a senior communications strategist for Communications & Marketing at Augusta University. Contact her at

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Woman's head shot Written by Jennifer Lask

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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