Improving the well-being of others has taken a prominent role for Brooke Thompson, senior business major. While she was serving as a student missionary prior to her junior year at WWU, Thompson had already decided she wanted to continue helping those around her in some way when she returned to campus. She also knew she wanted to provide service opportunities for her fellow students.
With those goals in mind, she applied and was hired as global service director for the Associated Students of Walla Walla University (ASWWU) for 2019–20. In that position she worked to multiply ASWWU efforts by partnering with the WWU Center for Humanitarian Engagement (CHE) on a variety of projects for local nonprofit organizations in the Walla Walla Valley.
“The CHE is a really cool department on campus that enthusiastically gets students involved in service. I think that is such an important mission. I wanted to be able to get a variety of students with a variety of interests and skill sets and passions involved in service, and working alongside the CHE made that possible,” explains Thompson. “David Lopez, CHE director, was so excited about getting me connected with local nonprofits and made our dreams on global service a reality.”
Thompson focused on starting projects that could be sustained through yearly ASWWU leadership changes. “Creating sustainable relationships is placing value in those individuals, and that is what service is all about. It is hard to continue that with global service as there is so much turnover every year, but working alongside the CHE has made that possible. CHE creates relationships with the community and maintains those relationships.”
In her work leading ASWWU global service, Thompson drew upon skills she learned in her business classes. “I think the most valuable and applicable class was fundamentals of leadership that I took while holding this position. The class not only focused on our leadership skills, traits and how we all lead differently, but it put a huge focus on servant leadership,” she says. “As the global service director, and in every management position, I believe servant leadership is so important. Not only was my goal to serve my community and provide ways for fellow students to serve the community, but I also wanted to serve my team.”
During Thompson’s leadership ASWWU global service helped the Friends of Children of Walla Walla and the Friends Club connect university students with elementary school students through a mentoring program. They also provided chapel services for the homeless at the Christian Aid Center, worked on restoration projects after flooding in the valley, decorated Christmas cookies for underprivileged children and collected Christmas gifts for children in foster care. At the end of the year, they were able to donate more than $7,000 of funds they raised to Treehouse, a nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for children in foster care throughout Washington state.
Thompson has passed the leadership torch for ASWWU global service to Emma Tucker, senior business major, who has taken over for the 2020–21 year. Thompson is pleased to note that Tucker will continue to cultivate the relationships between WWU and local nonprofit organizations in Walla Walla she worked so hard to establish.