It is no secret that the cost of attending the University of Portland is expensive, and for some students, the cost can be a serious roadblock, often having to work multiple jobs to help pay for school.
Students in the Community Service Work Study (CSWS) program are working to pay their tuition while also making a positive impact on their community and themselves through service. The opportunity for UP students to get involved with off-campus jobs in fields they are passionate about is open to anyone who qualifies for the Federal Work Study Program as part of their financial aid package, and there are several unfilled positions now posted on UP’s job board.
Tshombé Brown, program manager for community partnerships at the Moreau Center is the head of the CSWS program, which works with various non-profit organizations in Portland such as Friends of Trees, Village Gardens, and OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). As of January, 2018, CSWS students are paid $12/hr rather than $11.25/hr for on-campus jobs.
Brown explained that the incentives to work in the CSWS program go beyond just the added financial benefit. Brown affirmed that the networking opportunities allow students to “meet real employers in the real world.”
Brown says the program is in line with the two of the core commitments of the Moreau Center– community and service.
“Service can be joyful, and we can be compensated for that, and this is one way that students can both make money and be fulfilled through service,” Brown said.
Anita Oman, a sophomore nursing major, has been working as a coach and a tutor at Portland Tennis and Education in St. Johns for over a year through CSWS.
“I work with kids and tutor them in math, writing, reading, and I also assist with tennis stuff on the court,” Oman said. “It’s a really amazing way to help pay for my tuition while also doing something that positively affects the community that I live in.”
The students Oman works with are at risk, meaning they come from single-parent households, are minorities or are English-language learners. The program gives them a safe place to get their homework done with help if they need it and be physically active, all for no cost to the family.
Students who qualify for federal work study also have the option of looking for work on-campus, but Oman says that CSWS work is typically more rewarding than most on-campus positions. Oman stated that “CSWS positions give you an opportunity to do something that really feels like it makes a difference which I think is really neat.”
Paul Huang, a junior computer science major, does tech support with the nonprofit Free Geek through the CSWS program. Huang says the main reason he applied for the position is that he needed work experience relevant to his major, and the on-campus positions related to computer science are hard to come by.
Huang says that the benefits of CSWS for him go beyond just work experience.
“Working outside of campus, you’re talking to people of all age groups and I really like that.. I would say that working at Free Geek has made me more personable.”
Brown notes that the real benefit of the work experience is who you meet on the job, and that a main benefit is that opportunities like the ones provided through CSWS can connect students to organizations they might someday be interested in working for.