Allen Engle has a passion for freshman involvement. As a freshman, he benefited from guidance and mentorship from upperclassmen. Now an upperclassmen himself, he wanted to give back to freshman in the same way.
That is why he created Bama Year One.
Bama Year One was created last fall to plug freshman in, help them develop leadership skills through community service and make them want to stay at The University of Alabama.
The servant leadership program involves small groups where participants partake in community service and engaged leadership. They meet with their groups for an hour a week, where they discuss service, leadership and how to get involved.
“Everyone has their own different leadership philosophies, so it kind of helps them identify what that means to them, and identify what program in our office and around campus that they can get involved in,” said Engle, a senior majoring in exercise and sports science.
Bama Year One is housed in the Center for Service and Leadership’s office. For Engle, The Center for Service and Leadership has been his family, so he wants freshmen to find their family as well, whether that be through Bama Year One’s office or another program.
“But really what I would like is just having each freshman that finishes and goes through the program find a place to plug in on campus and really kind of find their own community,” he said.
As a part of the team, Betty Jean Bowles, a sophomore majoring in marketing and finance and Bama Year One assistant team leader for media and outreach, said she is excited to see the program grow this year. She said it is headed in the direction to reach the goal of having 20 members in each small group, which can have 10 to 20 freshmen.
One of the perks of working in small groups is building relationships. Bowles went through the program last year and said the small group aspect and the icebreakers within her group allowed her to easily talk to everyone from her first and second semester small groups and her group leaders. She kept a strong relationship with them throughout the year.
As a freshman last year, Bowles said she was a bit scared and overwhelmed. Once she got comfortable and realized all the freshmen were in the same position, she was able to open up and feel comfortable, which made her experience much less intimidating.
“Having that smaller group atmosphere, it kind of just helps know that we can get to know people on a more personal level,” she said.
Bowles said the focus on leadership through service definitely helped her in learning about other people’s service interests other than hers. In their meetings, they had a different talk every week geared toward social change, which helped direct her leadership skills in ways to help others.
Mae Crumbley, a junior majoring in biology and another Bama Year One assistant team leader for media and outreach, feels the program is a good environment for freshman to feel involved and fulfilled in their first year.
“I think that Bama Year One provides freshmen the opportunity to get involved in community service in their first year,” Crumbley said. “And it gives them a small group of diverse students that they can [learn with and] go out and do service together.”
Because it is Bama Year One’s second year, she said she is very excited to see how the program’s new updates help the freshmen and how they grow with the experience.
“I think it’s going to be a great way to connect them to community service, both on campus and in our community from the beginning, and hopefully they’ll carry that service-minded aspect throughout the rest of their career here,” she said.
In October, there is a service event in conjunction with the Bama Year One office. During the event, Hands On Tuscaloosa, everyone in the program will go out and serve at various locations, maximizing the opportunity to meet individuals in other groups and know other leaders on and off campus.
To get involved in Bama Year One, there is a short application available on its website at https://leadandserve.sa.ua.edu/community-action-teams/bama-year-one/. The program, will start next week and run for eight to nine weeks.