Sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club, the student organization is one of just three Rotaract Clubs in Rotary District 6670, which covers the southwest quadrant of Ohio. The club is the brainchild of Ozge Sayginer, class of 2009 from Mersn, Turkey, who was a member of Interact, a Rotary organization for high school students, in her home country.
"The importance of Rotary is very high in the international community," Sayginer said, adding that high school and college programs are well-known in other countries. "While serving an internship at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., last summer, I received mail from my high school Interact Club and spent the next two months finding a sponsor to learn about starting a club at Wittenberg."
Sayginer found that Springfield's Rotary Club includes numerous members with ties to Wittenberg, including University President Mark H. Erickson and his wife Lin. She then approached Lin Erickson, who, along with local Rotary member Jane Deer, now serves as adviser for the group.
Sayginer explained that she attended several meetings with Rotarians as she began organizing the club. Details included arranging sponsorship, financial bonding and setting up a budget, learning the ethical rules, developing a governing body and electing officers, recording meeting minutes for the Rotary president, meeting a membership quorum, and establishing projects and goals. Sayginer also had to make a presentation to the Student Senate.
The final step took place at a formal ceremony on Monday when Wittenberg's Rotaract Club was chartered. Following a welcome by President Erickson, Susan Bantz, district governor from Rotary, Scott Rader, district Rotaract coordinator, and Mark Robertson and Charlie Patterson from Springfield Rotary participated in the program.
With a plan of action in place, Sayginer said one of the organization's initial tasks is to meet with Wittenberg's Office of Community Service to establish service credit. In addition to recruiting new members in the fall, projects will include a landscaping program with the new high school, an ongoing relationship with the Springfield Peace Center and a goal to develop leadership. In addition, the club will take steps to adopt a Leadership Clark County program on Wittenberg's campus.
According to the Rotary Club, "a Rotaract club offers Rotarians the opportunity to mentor dynamic young men and women who want to provide service in their local and global communities. Rotaract has become a world-wide phenomenon."
Wittenberg's Rotaract Club has a strong international flavor among its charter members with Sayginer, president; Kathleen Adams, class of 2010 from Fairfield, Ohio, vice president; Elisabeth Petrovskaia, class of 2010 from Pontarlier, France, secretary; and Natalia Gomankova, class of 2010 from Petrozavodsk, Russia, treasurer. Other charter members include Micky Kuijer, class of 2010 from Biest-Joutakker, Netherland; Emma Andersson, class of 2010 from Djursholm, Sweden; Yuki Yoshizumi, class of 2007 from Matsuyama, Japan; Sarah Matesich, class of 2008 from Granville, Ohio; Zach Rinker, class of 2009 from Erial, N.J.; Kantaro Suzuki, class of 2008 from Tokyo, Japan; and Min Jeong Shin, class of 2010 from Seogu Daejon, Korea.
Sayginer will study in Russia next fall, and she plans to connect with Rotaract in Moscow to work toward future student exchange programs.
Founded in 1905, Rotary was the world's first service organization. Today, Rotary has more than 30,000 clubs in over 160 countries around the world, and Rotaract continues to grow with more than 8,000 Rotaract clubs in 155 countries and geographic areas, with an estimated membership of more than 186,000.
Written By: Phyllis Eberts
Photo By: Robbie Gantt
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