How community involvement helped Adam Goedken change his perspective on SERVING

The Iowa Challenge defines "serve" as follows: "As an Iowa student, you are a member of many communities, on and off the campus. You have the opportunity and the responsibility to be a good neighbor and citizen, and to serve the community. Make your community a great place to live."

Adam Goedken is a perfect representation of what it means to serve at the University of Iowa. A third-year student studying finance, economics, and writing, he has been involved with both Hawkeye Service Trips and Tippie Students for Service. Here, he has spread his love of service to students across campus. Adam first became involved with service at Iowa after seeing them at a student organization fair. From there, he went on to become an active member, and eventually their Director of Programs last year, where he coordinated the organization’s different service events.

This year, as President of Tippie Students for Service, Adam is focused on getting student engaged with the community in a way that really speaks to them. Tippie Students for Service connects with other student orgs (like Women in Business, Tippie Senate, and Accounting Club to name a few) to make a larger impact and create a bigger community for members. They’ve been to the Ronald McDonald House, Shelter House, Clothing Closet at Iowa, and more. Women in Business partnered with them to create a pen pal program, where they write to children at a local elementary school.

“That’s kind of how we operate,” Adam says. “We make connections with different students who have things they are passionate about. We try to make our community connections that way.”

Adam grew up in Independence, Iowa. Throughout high school he was involved with service projects. However, he says the volunteering he has done in college has been a different kind of service and has shaped his mindset in a different way. Perhaps the most impactful service activity he has been involved in was the Hawkeye Service Team Alternative Spring Break trip he went on. During the trip he and some other students went to Washington DC to work on economic-disparity related issues.

“They really stress ‘service-with’ instead of ‘service-for,’” he says. “I think that was my mindset in high school, that you volunteer to help someone who is unfortunate. The alternative spring break trip switched the paradigm to doing service with people because you have a common goal.”

During the trip, students volunteered at a clothing closet, food pantry, non-profit home store, and more. Adam says during this trip, his he changed his mindset to believe that service is a way of living and acting, not just a one-time thing you do. He hopes as President of Tippie Students for Service, he can instill this mindset into other students, and hopes that they will take up service projects because they want to serve their community.

Adam says he hopes that Tippie Students for service can become a center for service in the college, that organizations and students can look to for guidance and volunteer opportunities. He says doing service with others is an enjoyable and valuable way to spend your time and get to know people.

“On a broader level, it makes your community better,” he says. “It gives purpose to your actions and what you do. It makes for a more meaningful college experience if you look outside your own life and try to help someone else.”

About the series: the Iowa Challenge is a mission statement for UI students that involves 5 main goals: excel, stretch, engage, choose, and serve. These 5 things are what the UI expects from students, and what students should strive to do for themselves. This series profiles 5 students who exemplify what it means to take part in the Iowa Challenge.