In order to achieve full integration between students and the community, CASTLES recruits students from local universities to take part in planning, implementing, and evaluating its programs. Thus, students are able to work with CASTLES in a variety of functions: as a student worker, volunteer, intern, campus partner, or part of an independent study. Students from many major areas participate in CASTLES, including Business (BA, MBA), Nursing, Music/Arts, Education, Pre-Med, Social Work, Exercise Science (MS), Child Development, and many others.
Through CASTLES, students will be presented opportunities to participate and grow in the following areas:
- Community and health research
- Curriculum development
- Project coordination and management
- Team management
- Event development and implementation
- Marketing and communications
- Conducting community needs assessments
- Grant writing and fundraising
- Personal professional skills development
Current student involvement programs include:
- Organizing and presenting Teaching Kitchens and Health Engagement Workshops on various topics for hundreds of low-income adults and youth at community centers and senior living towers.
- Improving children’s physical fitness, academic performance, and emotional well-being with afterschool programs that include homework help, physical activities, nutrition lessons, and enrichment activities.
- A tutoring program for children aged 6 to 14 years in South Nashville, where immigrant and refugee populations are particularly high.
- Unique internship placement opportunities for students interested in learning more about and performing the specific functions of a non-profit organization.
Some past student involvement projects include:
- Participating in faculty research to reduce Type 2 Diabetes by reducing obesity among low-income African Americans in north Nashville.
- Helping Vanderbilt University sports teams develop and implement sports workshops for afterschool programs in low-income Nashville neighborhoods.
- Building children’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) projects by designing workshops for afterschool programs on these subjects.
- After training in focus group methodology and qualitative data analysis, CASTLES students developed, implemented, and analyzed focus group results related to community understanding and acceptance of infant immunization, use of booster seats, and family attitudes related to obesity and physical development in teen years.
Student partners have grown personally from working with CASTLES:
From my experience thus far, I have learned that CASTLES represents a fundamental idea that we belong to each other. At its root, the mission is both health-oriented and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. Engaging with the community partners…perpetuated why social equality is an essential part of a service-learning program."
— Ashley Nelson, former CASTLES staff member (2011-12)
When I first joined CASTLES, I did not know much about Nashville at all. I got the information of the history, people, stereotypes, and needs of the community by asking questions and listening. Over time as I learned more and more answers, I was better equipped to serve the community and the people, and also understand my relationship with the community in a stronger light."
— Sarah Kenny, current CASTLES staff member (2010-present)
The CASTLES program is more than a job opportunity, a volunteer placement, or an internship. It is a home and a place to come to learn about yourself and the world you live in."
— Anonymous, CASTLES staff
If you are a college student in the Nashville area and interested in learning more about becoming a student partner, please contact CASTLES.