Several faculty and staff members have been singled out in an unexpected and pleasant way thanks to the Student Government Association (SGA).
The SGA launched “Kindness Through Words” in mid-October prompting students to show their appreciation. SGA President Elizabeth Axberg surveyed her Thomas Nelson peers in person and via a mass email asking students to list an employee’s name and write “a few nice words” about that individual no matter the person’s role at the College.
“It was extended to all employees of the College because they are just as influential and valuable as our professors. By saying kind words, and brightening their days, it gives the employees motivation to continue doing the things that they already do so wonderfully, and reassurance that they are highly valued,” said Axberg.
“There is so much ‘behind the scenes’ that goes on here at Thomas Nelson. Oftentimes it’s something as simple as saying, 'thank you’ that could brighten someone’s day. This was my way of giving back to the employees that give us students so much,” she added.
As a result of the survey, notes bearing students’ positive thoughts were created, sealed in special envelopes and hand-delivered to those who students selected. Delivery began Nov. 26 and the effort is ongoing, she said.
“Overall, I got about 70 responses. This project was incredibly heartwarming. The rush of joy that I watched wash over people is priceless. Just seeing how positively it truly impacted them makes me so proud of my first project as SGA president,” said Axberg, noting that she hopes SGA can to do a similar project soon … perhaps, Professor Appreciation Week.
The idea for “Kindness Through Words” came to Axberg when she saw an email about by United Way’s recent Kindness Week Initiative. “If we could somehow bring ’Kindness Week’ to campus,” she thought when approaching SGA Advisor Kadisia Archer about it.
Archer wholeheartedly welcomed the project. “(This) provided an excellent opportunity for students to participate in community service activities which required a minimum time commitment,” said Archer, who is also coordinator of Student Life and Leadership for Thomas Nelson. “The activities occurred just before the most stressful point of the semester for Thomas Nelson students and employees.”
“We designed the ‘Kindness Through Words’ project to expose students to the joy of giving to others with the hope of sparking their interest in community service. In addition, we believed the College’s employees would enjoy knowing their work and commitment are noticed and appreciated. It’s wonderful to give and also to receive.”
College officials and students alike applauded the benevolent SGA venture when Axberg presented updates during recent College Council and President’s Cabinet meetings. She stressed the project’s significance during each presentation.
“I know a lot of the times teachers have this goal of making an impact on at least one student. This was a way to show them that they have impacted someone’s life, and that what they do here has not gone unnoticed,” she said.
A Hampton resident and social science major with a specialization in education, Axberg was appointed as SGA president in fall 2018. She will serve through spring 2019 when SGA elections take place in April. In the role, she aims to promote student involvement on campus while also continuing to encourage kindness.