Zenia Gutierrez reads a book to children.

Gift of giving

From the classroom to the community, Broncos are using their time and talents to give back.

Dear friends and colleagues,

At Western, we are proud to take a whole-person approach to higher education. We prepare students to achieve career success over a lifetime by helping them discover and use their purpose and talents in the workplace. But we don’t stop there.

As part of equipping students to pursue a life well lived, we also help them apply their talents and sense of purpose to volunteer efforts, service-learning initiatives and other civic engagement activities that help round them out as people and meet the needs of our communities. Our students do this remarkably well and to an extraordinary degree. They get involved in myriad causes and activities, from getting out the vote to tutoring schoolchildren to cleaning up the environment to fighting poverty to advancing social justice to working to improve neighborhoods and many other efforts.

In 2019, in the University’s most recent official accounting for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, we demonstrated that students, faculty and staff contributed 1.34 million hours of service in one year toward community engagement. Using Michigan's 2019 volunteer equivalency hourly rate of $25.79, that equates to a $34.5 million investment in serving the people in our region. And even after the emergence of COVID-19 when the ensuing pandemic greatly limited in-person interaction, Broncos still found ways to lift communities and causes—with about 90,000 hours in service-learning initiatives alone, by one estimate.

The notional dollar amount and actual hours of service are impressive numbers. They help illustrate the magnitude and depth of our community’s capacity to care for others. The full value of service, however, is in many ways immeasurable but nonetheless profound.

As one of our graduates shared, “Through service learning, I’ve become aware of the potential impact and influence I have on those around me and how much of an impact community members have on me just by being ‘in the moment’ and engaging with them. This idea has become a large part of career development for me.”

That experience speaks to the beauty and value of holistic development. Guided by our community’s belief in the power of service to others, our students recognize in themselves the power to make a difference, not just in one part of life but across multiple dimensions. When they graduate, they are ready to add value in jobs and work environments wherever they go. They also are prepared to contribute in other ways that make communities stronger. Using their gifts and talents, they make a difference. This edition of the W Magazine highlights some of the ways Broncos serve in professional capacities and more broadly as citizens in their communities. Their stories inspire and they make us proud.


Edward Montgomery, Ph.D.

  • Donovan Lassig uses his walker to navigate a space inside his home while several students look on.

    When a West Michigan mother quickly found her home in need of major improvements to help her son move around, interior design students stepped up to create an accessible future and bring the family together again.

  • Koretta King-Jackson leans over a desk to show a student something on a piece of paper.

    The first cohort of the Urban Teacher Residency Program is settling into their classrooms, filling a critical teacher shortage—and fulfilling their career ambitions.

  • Two young men roll a wheelbarrow full of concrete blocks at a garden construction site.

    Whether filling an elementary school store with goodies, helping seniors learn how to use their phones or installing doorbell cameras for neighbors, service-learning students are using their classroom-learned skills to better the community and themselves.

Crystal Lucas-Perry stands in a crosswalk in front of a Broadway theatre wearing a red dress. (Photo courtesy: Valerie Terranova)

Alumni Profile

Bursting onto the Broadway scene with a double debut, College of Fine Arts alumna Crystal Lucas-Perry is shining bright in the Big Apple.

University News

  • A Western hockey player skates in a rink with his stick up.

    ONWARD: Branding support for student-athletes

    A new program sets Broncos up for success with technology, education and resources they need to succeed in the new era of Name, Image and Likeness deals.

    Learn about the program

Relevant research

  • Two women look at plants inside a greenhouse.

    From the lab to the classroom, faculty are giving Kalamazoo-area science teachers invaluable experiences to enhance their curriculum and inspire future STEM leaders.

  • The hands of esports players rest on keyboards in front of a computer monitor.

    Drs. Nicholas Hanson and Rachel Dykstra discovered the secret to being a better gamer is in the training done away from screens.

A row of homes surrounded by floodwaters.

Expert Insights

Weather extremes are impacting humans at an increasingly continuous clip as climate change intensifies, leading to catastrophic flooding, droughts and other weather events.

In Print

A portrait of David Lyth in a gray polo shirt.

Why I Give

My hope is that I can not only help ease the burden of the cost for higher education but also inspire other faculty at WMU to give back.

Dr. David Lyth, M.S.‘79, professor emeritus of engineering