Indiana State University Newsroom

Donaghy Day introduces new ISU students to community engagement

August 19, 2008

More than 160 incoming freshmen gathered Tuesday (Aug. 19) outside of Tirey Hall patiently waiting to play a role in Indiana State University's Donaghy Day.

Begun in 1976, and revived this year to focus on community engagement, Donaghy Day is meant for students to give back to the campus and the surrounding community. It is named after Fred Donaghy, a former student and professor of life sciences.

Crystal Brown of Fillmore, a graduate student in student affairs and higher education, was in charge of organizing the day's events. Brown, who often participates in volunteer work herself, said Donaghy Day is a great way for new students to get involved with the community.

"We are trying to make this an annual part of freshman orientation," said Brown. "This is an old tradition, which recently has come to light again."

According to Brown, Indiana State is in connection with more than 30 non-profit organizations throughout Terre Haute.

"This is a great way to motivate students to get involved," said Brown.

Tory Torma, son of Todd and Penny Torma of North Liberty, said the event has inspired him to possibly start a volunteer club later this year. Torma, who is an incoming pre-medicine major, is volunteering at the local recycling center for the day.

"I'd like to get used to the community, and give back," said Torma.

George Fritch, son of George and Billie Jo Fritch of Linton, also a pre-medicine major, said the event was his chance to get acquainted with Terre Haute and explore his opportunities.

Both students are Rural Health and President's Scholars attending the university on full scholarships, and already have plans of attending the Indiana University School of Medicine upon gradation.

"This is my way of paying back the community," Fritch said.

Before the eager students were sent out into the community, they gathered in Tilson Auditorium where they listened to Nancy Rogers, director of ISU's Center for Public Service and Community Engagement, discuss the activity's purpose.

"There are a number of non-profit organizations throughout the community who simply could not function without the help of our students," said Rogers. "This is a way for students to find a meaningful opportunity and give back to their community at the same time."

Guest speaker Troy Fears, executive director of United Way of the Wabash Valley, explained that there are hundreds of opportunities to give back to the community.

"We usually try and match volunteers with agencies which are relevant to their majors or interests," said Fears. "This is a great community and you as students make it better by volunteering your time."

Matt Huckleby of Georgetown, a junior political science major and community volunteer, was in the auditorium offering words of encouragement to the new students. Huckleby recalled a time in his life when community service truly changed his life.

"I attended an alternative spring break trip through ISU, and was sent to a small town in Central Alabama after a tornado had hit and totaled the town," said Huckleby.

He went on to explain that the town was absolutely devastated by the natural disaster and that the students to help bring it back it life. He then told a story about the moment that would change his perspective on life forever.

"We were helping an elderly woman dig through the remains of what used to be her house, and gathered as much of her life as we could," said Huckleby. "Each time we found something of significance, we gave it to her in hopes that we were helping piece her life back together. When we were finished, the woman looked at us and said, 'Thank you, this is the happiest day of my life.' That really gave me a whole new perspective on life."

Students interested in becoming a volunteer, or those who would like more information, may contact Rogers at Community members and students may contact Fears at

Sweeping up Indiana State University freshmen (left to right) Tyler Trent, Ryan Benner and Patrick Simmons work outside the Vigo County CHANCES for Youth building as part of Donaghy Day activities intended for students to give back to the campus and community. (ISU/Kara Berchem)
Cleaning up Freshmen nursing majors Tiffani Williams (left) and Shannon O'Mara clean toys at the Central Presbyterian Church Nursery as part of Donaghy Day activities, a day set aside for Indiana State University students to give back to the campus and community. (ISU/Kara Berchem)

Contact: Nancy Rogers, director, Center for Public Service and Community Engagement, Indiana State University, 812-237-2474 or  

Writer: Jennifer Spector, media relations intern, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or

Story Highlights

More than 160 incoming freshmen fanned out across Terre Haute for Donaghy Day activities intended as a day for ISU students to give back to the campus and community. Begun in 1976, Donaghy Day was revived this year as part of Knowing Sycamores new student orientation to give newcomers to campus a sample of the university's commitment to community engagement.

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