A few years ago, Myles Robertson created the Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) campus garden. In the summer of 2014, Mike Staszewski, a current IUSB student, took a leadership role in maintaining and organizing involvement for the garden’s upkeep. In addition, Mike wanted to create campus awareness. He shared, “I wanted to communicate and get this garden going.” The garden, which was located near student housing, was open to the community as well. Mike, who also worked with the Center for a Sustainable Future, spent his time and energy gathering others to get involved.
For example, he went to different clubs on campus and asked if they were interested in adopting one of the 18 raised garden beds. His response was positive: about 12 clubs and local organizations adopted a bed. In addition, Mike worked closely with the Black Student Union on campus, and recalled how upbeat and positive they were. Everyone painted a stone and put it in their flower bed, which symbolized uniqueness and “club identity.” The garden, Mike said, “taught ownership.” People worked together and created community. In addition, he led “garden parties” for students and the community. Many of the fruits and vegetables from the garden were donated to Broadway church. It was an opportunity to give back and serve others. Broadway loved it!
Mike was awarded the “Myles Robertson Award of Sustainability.” His commitment to peace building does not end there. While at Ivy Tech Community College, Mike served as the Student Body President. One of his responsibilities while in office was meeting with other SGA presidents on a statewide level. The goal was to cultivate different initiatives—both locally and statewide. Thus, their hope was to increase student engagement and activities on campus for students. Mike shared a piece of advice, a basketball analogy: “If there are 16 players on the team, you have to coach all 16 differently.” He believes that good leadership and community activism comes with the ability to work with many different people of all leadership styles—and not holding back no matter what barriers come your way.
Interviewer and editor: Monica Murphy
The story of: Mike Staszewski