Johnson students say SALT is ‘worth it’

KNOXVILLE — For students to graduate, Johnson University requires they complete the Service and Learning Together program.

SALT allows students to take their knowledge from the classroom and apply it in everyday situations through voluntary work in the community.

Students are required to complete 120 hours of SALT service for a bachelor’s degree or 60 hours for an associate’s degree.

Max McCoig, a senior majoring in ministry leadership, said he enjoys the SALT program.

“I think that they [the hours] are very easy to achieve and that it helps the students to kind of get their foot in the door for ministry purposes, because I know the majority, if not all of the students here, are either planning to go into the ministry or some sort of like mission or ministry field,” McCoig said. “So I definitely think, at least for me with Young Life, it’s helped me get a foot in the door to progressively come on staff.”

McCoig earns his hours by volunteering with Young Life, a worldwide Christian ministry that connects older mentors with middle school, high school, and college age students in their community.

Although McCoig said it can be challenging to fit baseball, school, his personal life and the volunteer work into his schedule, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t sleep a lot,” he said. “I’m never caught up on everything that I have to do.”

McCoig said that he likes the adrenaline rush of always having something to get done.

“I’m constantly going, but at the end of the day, I think it’s worth it,” he said.

The SALT course information states that the program is meant to help students identify their gifts and strengths, develop skills, shape a humble attitude and confirm the students’ career decision among other things.

“I think [SALT] matures us, especially in the ministry aspect,” McCoig said. “You get to change lives so it may start as ‘oh I need to get so many hours in so I can graduate’ but then you come back and you realize, ‘wow I’m doubling my hours that I needed because of how much my heart is actually in this ministry or this mission field that I’ve gone into’. You’re changing lives and that makes it all worth it.”

He said that although he believes the hours may be too much for some students in certain situations, for example, students who have to work to put themselves through school, it is not impossible.

“I would tell them [students struggling to find the time] to find something that they’re not doing just for the hours,” he said. “Find something that you’re doing because you enjoy it and that just so happens to give you hours.

“Find something that actually pulls at your heart and that you have a heart for at the end of the day,” he added.

Sam Kelly, a freshman, and business administration major, feels that the requirements are easily attainable, although the rules regarding when the hours can be obtained are strict.

“I think they’re a good idea, honestly, because it does help people get an idea of what it means to volunteer their own time without getting anything in return,” Kelly said. “This also promotes good outlooks on work rather than expecting a reward in return. The sacrifice is worth it.”

Johnson University’s SALT hours have a few rules put in place when it comes to obtaining the hours a student needs to graduate. One of these rules is that a student cannot account for more than 20 SALT hours per semester.

“One hundred twenty hours is a reasonable time for four years of college,” Kelly said. “The only part about SALT hours that I do not enjoy is that I have a set amount I can obtain each year.”

He said that he would like the flexibility to achieve more than 20 hours in a single semester.

“With peoples’ schedules, I feel like we should be able to decide when we volunteer our own time,” Kelly said. “I think Johnson should change to allow us to decide when we get our 120 hours rather than limiting us to a certain amount per semester.”

Since Kelly is a business major, he let us in on why he thinks SALT hours are important to his future after graduating.

“My specialized major is business management, and I eventually want a master’s in entrepreneurship,” Kelly said. “What this means is that eventually I want to open up my own business, and so many people in the business world are so focused on making as much money as possible and running a successful business, and they skip out on the key humane parts of running a business, such as giving back to the community and helping the needy. I think that the SALT hours here are helping me to get into the right mindset to remember that in my future career.”

Abigail Guthrie contributed to this story. 

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