"I can have a voice in my community"

Clayton Rask is a senior majoring in communications studies and a member of the men’s golf team at the University of Minnesota. He is from Otsego, Minnesota.

When I signed up for an independent study class in community organizing this past fall, I thought that I was getting in over my head with something that I had no idea about. When our class first met, we were told that we could work on whatever we wanted within the community. When I found out about the Warrior to Citizen Campaign, I became really intrigued because some of my friends are serving in the military right now.

I joined the Warrior to Citizen Campaign working group, and agreed to serve on a sub-committee that is developing a coin to give to Minnesota veterans as a symbol of appreciation for their service (in the military, coins have special meaning). The coin will also create a way for businesses to honor the service of veterans through discounts and special offers.

What I found to be the most impressive thing about that semester is that even though we met with many groups and had help from our professors, we as students had an impact or saw change with the work we are doing. For example, as a group we attended the weekly pizza get-togethers organized by the University of Minnesota’s Veterans Transition Center, and built relationships with the student veterans who created and run the center. When we learned that their office would have to close if someone could not be there to staff it, Claire Fleming, a student from my team, volunteered to work a few hours each week to keep the office open.

The work that I have been a part of has made me think about what I can do to have a voice in things that go on in my community.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs