What Students Say
VIGNETTES ABOUT SERVICE-LEARNING
The following excerpts are from selected student’s reflection logs during the fall 2009 semester. Students were involved in the Impacting Community through Service Learning Freshman Learning Community Seminar for students in the Experimental Learning Scholars Program.
From a student working with Birmingham Botanical Gardens Horticultural Therapy Program:
"I plan to major in chemistry, go to med school somewhere, and eventually become some kind of doctor. I think that from working with children, the elderly, and those inflicted with Alzheimer’s is helping me decide what kind of doctor I may want to become. I have thought about working in pediatrics and geriatrics before, and actually getting the chance to spend time working with both kinds of patients is really beneficial to me in this way.
I am also building practical and interpersonal skills by learning how to communicate with children and the elderly. I don’t think I could get these skills by just reading textbooks and attending class. Along with communication I am also learning about how the real world works, which can be scary and cynical sometimes. I think my service learning experience is really helping me prepare for my future."
From a student working with Junior Achievement and Epic Elementary School fourth grade students:
"I am learning to become a better public speaker. By speaking to a group of children that are much younger than I am, I am able to build up a better conscience and practice for future reference. I am also learning how to relate to people, and understand some of the situations that people are placed in. This can help me when I am applying for a job, or fulfilling the job of doctor in the future. By learning how to relate to people I am learning how I can relate or be empathetic towards my future patients."
From a Student working with Pathways Women's Shelter:
"Taking this Impacting Community class has 100% affected my thoughts about my future plans. I came to UAB with a major in biology and intentions to being pre-med. It did not take me very long at all to realize that science and math were my weakest points. I wanted a career in medicine to help people. This class has taught me that so many more professions can help individuals than just healthcare. After some research and talking to counselors, I have decided to change my major to social work, which I am thrilled about. Being involved in the community around me and witnessing the tragedies of this world is something that interests me. It makes me excited to learn more about it, and passionate to help change it. Service learning truly teaches real life experiences. And, for me, I needed to see what life could look like when dealing with various populations before I committed myself to a new course of study."
What other students have to say about their experience in Service Learning Courses.
Jeffrey Williams, a biology major at UAB, worked with LabsforKids. Jeffrey says "I have been very fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to work with such a noble organization over the past 3 years. During my time with these kids, I have been able to set up experiments that stimulate the creativity and higher thinking skills of these children. In addition, it has reinforced my knowledge in the areas that we cover from week-to-week.
During or time with LabsforKids, we have covered science material related to Anatomy, Chemistry (chemical reactions), Natural Science (plants), Physical Science and even Physics (rockets). I have seen great progress in the understanding and comprehension of these tough subject matters over my time in the program. Furthermore, what is most rewarding is that the students love the experiments and are always wanting more information and time to learn!
Although I have been fairly active in the community and with many other volunteer organizations, I can safely say that this has one the most awarding ones. Since we have been working with the same group of students throughout our time, we have built a friendship that I will always remember. I hope to stay very active in this organization and see it catch popularity and become a template through out many more schools in need of such a program.
Valerie Gribben, as a UAB student, created the Healing Words Program in which service-learning students read to hospital patients. Valerie describes service-learning as "an integral part of the university experience. Healing Words, college students are able to brighten the days of countless hospital patients and nursing home residents. I have learned that reading is catalyst for the imagination. When I read novels, short stories, or poetry to patients, I can see them escape into the pages of a fictional world. Often our reading raises questions, and I am able to participate in an exchange of ideas with the patient, giving me fresh perspectives on situations. "
Jonathan Woolley engaged with Jones Valley Urban Farms working on harvesting produce, analyzing the efficiency of vermiculture composting, and developing an on-site curriculum for inner-city elementary school students. Jonathan states: "Service-learning has completely revolutionized my educational experience at UAB. I have been given the opportunity to gain knowledge and
experience that directly relates to my future career goals while interacting with amazing UAB faculty and community members whose wisdom and guidance have greatly advanced my academic and personal development."
Alexandra Siegel is engaged in service with the 1917 HIV/AIDS Clinic where she works as a clinic host, conducts OraQuick testing and organizes events. Alex states: "My service-learning experience has been very beneficial. Working at an AIDS clinic, I have learned to connect with people who are very different from me and attempt to help them change for the better. I have also learned about the difficulties of running a non-profit organization as well as their place in the community as a whole. I have found it easier to see through others' perspectives now, especially those that are unlike me. I hope to explore the stigma surrounding this disease in our community and eventually eliminate ."
Anastasia Brown engaged in service with Jefferson County Family Court where she observed and participated in various proceedings relating to juvenile justice. Anastasia states: "My service-learning experience has allowed me to obtain a thorough understanding of how all the departments at Family Court function on their own and as a unit. Family Court has made me realize the scope of the problems in these children's lives. The environment most of the children are submerged in is unhealthy, but it does not seem that any one institution has the ability to handle social problems of this magnitude. I am a criminal justice major. This experience has helped me to understand some of the concepts and theories I have been learning about in the classroom, and I hope it will help me in the future when I have chosen a career. "
Bethany Jenkins was involved in a service-learning project with the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA). Bethany comments: "Shortly after beginning my internship, I was asked by a fellow student, 'Why should we help the illegal immigrants in the Birmingham community?' And so began my investigation into this matter. I have found through my contact with HICA and the people it supports that the answer to this question is by no means asimple one.The reasons for assisting them are multiple, but by facing the reality of the fact that they are here, we canhelp them assimilateto the United States and Birmingham for the greaterbenefit of the community. My service-learning project has really opened my eyes to the issues and facts surrounding the immigrant population in the United States, and has shown me that there are not always clear-cut answers and solutions to problems such as this one."