Service Distinction FAQs

If you have a question that is not addressed here, please contact the Center for Community Engagement at cnuengage@cnu.edu or 757-594-7233

Are there any changes to Service Distinction policies because of COVID-19?

Yes. Due to the challenges of serving during COVID-19, the following policies have been implemented for students working toward graduating with Service Distinction Honors:

  • Students may complete hours in any service track
  • Service hours may be completed anywhere (locally, at home, etc.)

  • Service hours may be completed remotely, in-person, or in a hybrid model

  • All hours should be logged in your CNU Engage account!

Please contact the Center at 757-594-7233 or at jessica.deal@cnu.edu with any questions.

How do I enroll in the Service Distinction Program at CNU?

Enrolling in Service Distinction is easy. Simply create an account online at cnuengage.org.

When you create your account, you are automatically enrolled in the Service Distinction Program. If you wish to enroll in Service Distinction Leader, you may opt in when you create your account or you can enroll at a later date via your Student Dashboard.

Once your account is created, you can start logging your service hours.

NOTE: Remember to log all of your service hours during your time at CNU - both from your service here and at home. You can track your progress toward Service Distinction in your Student Dashboard.

Do hours that I have served from High School count towards my Service Distinction Hours?

No. All hours must be hours logged while attending Christopher Newport University. The Service Distinction and Service Distinction Leader programs each have specific service hour requirements that can only be completed while attending CNU. These requirements allow for hours served in both the local community and at home (or abroad) over breaks.

What are the hour requirements for both Service Distinction and Service Distinction Leader?

For Service Distinction, you must log at least 140 service hours into the CNU Engage website. While you are encouraged to serve all of your hours in the local community, with 1-2 non-profit organizations, at least 100 of those hours must be within the Hampton Roads area benefiting a non-CNU community organization(s) and must be within your declared service track (though see above for Covid-19 modifications). The remaining 40 hours can come from other service, such as: on-campus work, clubs supporting a local non-profit organization, service completed while on home breaks, and/or additional hours served in the local community.

For Service Distinction Leader, you must log at least 400 service hours into the CNU Engage website. While you are encouraged to serve all of your hours in the local community, with 1-2 non-profit organizations, at least 250 of those hours must be within the Hampton Roads area benefiting a non-CNU community organization(s) and must be within your declared service track (though see above for Covid-19 modifications). The remaining 150 hours can come from other service, such as: on-campus work, clubs supporting a local non-profit organization, service completed while on home breaks, and/or additional hours served in the local community.

What type of service counts towards graduating with Service Distinction Honors?

Community engagement that is eligible to be counted towards graduating with Service Distinction Honors includes:

  • CNU Engage Events & Trainings (i.e., NN101, Food for Thought, Engage Week)
  • Citizen Outreach (e.g., Voter Turnout, Advocacy for city services)
  • Direct service (e.g., tutoring, mentoring, community beautification project)
  • Indirect service that focuses on capacity building for a non-profit (i.e., grant writing, policy research, web-development, social media)
  • Advocacy and social action (e.g., environmental sustainability, animals rights, social justice and equity)
  • Any campus organization’s (PLP, Greek Life, Athletics, etc.) approved volunteer work
  • Internships if they follow Service Distinction volunteer guidelines
  • Community Based Research, projects, or service as part of a CNU academic course
  • Service work completed with a religious organization (tutoring, mentoring, providing goods to those in need, community justice programs, and crisis intervention)
What type of service does not count towards graduating with Service Distinction Honors?

Community engagement that is not eligible to be counted towards graduating with Service Distinction Honors includes:

  • Service on behalf of a private or public, for-profit company or organization
  • Service on behalf of a partisan political organization or campaign
  • Pure, scientific research in a laboratory
  • ROTC or any other military service
  • Activities that support worship and proselytizing within religious organizations, such as service that focuses on religious instruction, indoctrination, or conversion. E.g., teaching in evangelical and proselytizing programs, participating in a worship service.
What do I have to do in order to graduate with Service Distinction or Service Distinction Leader?

To graduate with Service Distinction or Service Distinction Leader honors, you must first create an account at cnuengage.org, declare the service track you are choosing to follow, and attend a program orientation. You must then complete and log the required amount of service hours through the CNU Engage website. Finally, you must complete a Senior Service Reflection which includes what you did, what you learned from your service site(s), and how you made an impact on your site(s). 

Why should I do Service Distinction?

Participating in consistent, committed service to a non-profit organization during your time at college is one of the best ways to set yourself apart from your peers, gain real world, marketable skills, grow your network, and provide a pathway to knowing and connecting with the community you are now a part of. Getting off campus and caring for your community is an opportunity to grow and learn how to work with diverse people. Committing to an organization will give you increasing levels of responsibility and knowledge that can lead to leadership and internship opportunities. It also greatly benefits our non-profit partners who are in need of committed, knowledgeable volunteers.

Other benefits from completing Service Distinction include:

  • Service Distinction Ceremony prior to graduation
  • Certificate of accomplishment, SD T-shirt, graduation tassel (double tassel for SD Leaders), and CNU Engage Lapel Pin
  • Honors at graduation
  • Ability to include service distinction honors on resumes and graduate school applications – service distinction demonstrates dedication, active citizenship, and commitment to community engagement.
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