Leadership club revived on campus

A dormant club on campus has recently been reactivated with a fresh breath of new life.

The Rotaract Club of Fresno State has been restarted on campus to help members develop professional and leadership skills, work in cooperation with sponsoring Rotary clubs and have opportunities to address the needs of the community.

The club is a branch of the larger Rotary International. Rotary International is a worldwide organization with 1.2 million members in more than 200 different countries.

The first Rotaract Club started in 1968 at the University of North Carolina. There are more than 7,100 Rotaract clubs in 163 countries worldwide.

Dr. Michael Jenkins is the Dean of the Lyles College of Engineering, and a faculty advisor for the Rotaract Club. Jenkins is also a member of the Rotary Club of East Fresno.

He said the Rotaract Club is for young professionals between 18 and 30 years old.

Jenkins said the club is a great way for students to participate on campus, and can translate into involvement in Rotary International after graduation.

“Rotaract provides an opportunity to connect with the community-based club and the international and national clubs,” Jenkins said.

He said connections with the professionals who make up Rotary International will help students develop their careers. They will have the opportunity to network with and be mentored by professionals in the Fresno community.

“It is a great opportunity for students to get involved in an international community service group,” Jenkins said.

He said the Rotaract Club of Fresno State was originally started in 2003, and had 20 members. Jenkins said the group had one meeting, but failed to do anything more.

Chris Fiorentino, the director of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, is also a faculty advisor for the Rotaract Club. He was also involved with providing service projects for the Rotaract Club when it first started on campus seven years ago.

Fiorentino said his primary role in the reactivated club will be to provide the students in the club with community service opportunities. He said the club will probably do one international and one local project each year.

He said the club offers students a unique community service experience.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to get involved on the ground floor of a service and professional development organization,” Fiorentino said.

Mechanical engineering professor Walter Loscutoff, is another faculty advisor for the Rotaract Club and a member of the Rotary Club of East Fresno.

He said the Rotaract Club will provide students with the chance to do service projects that will be affective and make a difference.

“It’s really a great opportunity to do community service,” Loscutoff said. “It gives them an opportunity to really experience what they can do to help.”

Loscutoff said the faculty advisors are committed to making the club thrive on campus. He said the club members will have meetings twice a month, and officers will meet weekly.

“We want to make sure that it stays active and the kids participate,” Loscutoff said.

He said the Rotary Club of Fig Garden and the Rotary Club of East Fresno each donated $500 to the Rotaract Club to give the group a financial boost.

Loscutoff said any student at Fresno State can become a member of the club.

“It’s open to everyone,” Loscutoff said. “It’s an interesting experience that everyone should have.”

Students interested in joining can attend the next meeting, or contact any of the faculty advisors.

The next Rotaract Club meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at noon in the University Student Union room 308. Members will discuss the plans and procedures for the club, and vote for officers.

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