April 12, 2018 2:30PM
Now, in her senior year, she's rallying more than 600 fellow Pittsburg State students to take part in the Big Event on Saturday as part of a national initiative to make a difference at the grass-roots level.
"For me, it's personal," said Bicknell, who is pursuing a degree in plastics engineering technology. "I grew up here, so I took it for granted the relationship that exists between the community and the university. But when I go to other places, I see that our relationship here is a unique one that not every town has. I want to make sure that continues."
To prepare, Bicknell attended a national conference to learn leadership strategies for pulling off the local Big Event — an event that has been done across the U.S. since 1982 and has been done by Pittsburg State for 15 years.
"Each year, I've seen just how beneficial it is to our community," Bicknell said. "It's a way to bring the community and the university even closer together, a way for residents to get to know the students better and for us to help give back to a community that gives us very strong support."
"In talking with the residents each year, you see how grateful they are for our help and how much they appreciate the fact that we do want to give back," Bicknell said.
Students will register at the Weede Physical Education Building at 9:15 a.m., with the kick-off planned for 9:45 a.m. in the John Lance Arena, with breakfast provided by local sponsors Starbucks and Walmart. President Steve Scott and Bicknell both will address the crowd, after which each student will be assigned to a team and given a work assignment. Locations were chosen after a home registration process in January.
At 11 a.m., students will fan out across town to 100 job sites. They'll be armed with rakes, garden gloves, trash sacks, paint brushes, and good old-fashioned elbow grease to put in a few hours helping registered community members who need lawn, garden, and exterior household chores completed and, in most cases, are unable to do all of it themselves.
"They will be raking leaves, tidying up gardens, cleaning out gutters — the kinds of things that some residents need help with and that are fairly easy for us to make a big difference by doing," Bicknell said.
They'll return to the Weede at around 1 p.m. for sandwiches and bottled water provided by local sponsors Jimmy Johns and Coca Cola.
"It's taken months of planning, but it's worth it," Bicknell said. "It's been a great experience or me to master the traits of organizing, and it's going to benefit students and the residents who can all get to know each other better. I feel like this is what being a Pitt State student is all about."
The Big Event is sponsored by the Student Government Association. Learn more at https://www.pittstate.edu/campus-life/groups/sga/big-event.dot