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BUILD project lays foundation for Georgia Southerns latest group of future leaders
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Georgia Southern's BUILD leadership development work shop participant Tony Kozera, 18, of Marietta, catches a catnap in an air conditioned car. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Chris Morris couldn’t wait to get to college. The freshman from Snellville was so anxious to leave his home and get to school that he signed up for Project BUILD, a week-long leadership training program for new students, which started the week before classes.
    He said he didn’t really have high expectations going into it, but after a week of helping build a home for Habitat for Humanity and spending time discussing leadership, Morris has changed his mind about it.
“It’s been a really good experience,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be a leader.”
    Morris is one of 45 students in Statesboro early to participate in BUILD (Building Undergraduate Involvement and Leadership Development.)
    Now in its second year, Project BUILD has expanded to two weeks after last year’s successful week. Also, interest in the program has grown resulting in the need for a second week.
    “The Southern Pathways Leadership Program strives to help incoming freshmen with their transition to college life by introducing them to concepts that will enrich their educations both in and out of the classroom,” said Kellie Pickett, assistant director of student leadership. “The philosophy behind this project is to help students understand that leadership begins with service.”
    During the day, students work on homes being built by Habitat for Humanity at the Statesboro Pointe subdivision while each night they are involved in small group discussions led by student leaders at Georgia Southern.
    Jonathan Bookout, an incoming freshman from Douglas, said he had a really good time meeting new people and working on the house.
    He said only four people from his area were attending Georgia Southern this fall so the opportunity to meet students and develop friendships before classes start was helpful to him.
    “I think this has been beneficial because I’ve had a chance to meet people and it feels more like home,” Bookout said.
    In addition to Habitat for Humanity, the students are also working with Kingdom Builders, a local non-profit organization. There, they work to repair buildings and other structures of those who need assistance.
    “They build wheelchair ramps for people who need to get into their houses and do some restoration work as well,” Pickett said. “What’s great is that the students will meet some of the people in the community they’re helping.”
    Vicki Davis, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County, said she is excited to have students back again this year volunteering with the organization.
    “Last year the students were fabulous, very enthusiastic, very hard working and a lot of fun to be around,” Davis said. “The volunteers will really help us and we hope it will be a great way to get them involved in volunteering in the community as they get into their school year.”
    Pickett said the week helped the students in several ways.
    “By the week’s end, the students will have logged over 1,000 combined service hours and will have a stronger sense of self, their friends and their new community,” she said.
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