Missouri State University
Citizenship and Service-Learning (CASL)
An online publication for CASL stakeholders

Service-Learning Spotlight: Rachel Funken

While just a freshman, Social Work student Rachel Funken decided to take on the challenge of service-learning this semester (Spring 2016) to gain more experience in her field of study before pursuing a full internship. She chose to work at Greene County Children’s Division (CD) because it fit her interest of advocating for child welfare and helping families directly. She recently shared more information about her service-learning experience.

1) How has your experience been at CD?
It has been amazing!  I’ve learned and gained so much information that I would never be able to get in a classroom setting.

Rachel at the CD office in downtown Springfield.
Rachel at the CD office in downtown Springfield.

2) What kinds of things do you do at CD?
When I’m at CD, I work alongside one or two of the workers in the department while they’re either working on a case, meeting with clients and/or their lawyers, or going out into the field to check up on children after a hotline call comes in.

3) What do you enjoy most about working with this organization?
What I enjoy most about working with CD is that it’s exactly what I want to be doing when I’m out of college.  It also gives me a head start on becoming knowledgeable about the organization in case I’m interested in applying for the PREP Program in my senior year for my practicum.

4) Why do you think the work your organization is doing/issue it is addressing is important?
I think the work that CD is doing is important because it gives children a voice.  Children who are abused or neglected need someone to rescue and take care of them when their parents or guardians aren’t doing so. This is what CD sets out to do, and I think they do a wonderful job at achieving this goal.

5) How has being involved in service-learning and this particular organization helped you understand your coursework better?
It has helped me better understand my coursework because I’m able to learn something in the classroom and then go to CD and apply it to the real world.

6) What advice do you have for students who are interested to do service-learning?
My advice would be to absolutely try to do it! It gives you so much experience you wouldn’t be able to get before you actually begin you career. It also gives you a better idea if your major is right or not for you.

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Service-Learning Students Say…

Missouri State University students who take on a component service-learning course get to understand their academic coursework better while at the same time work at various local non-profit organizations, schools and government agencies that are making a difference in our community. Each spring and fall semesters, about 80 to 100 students enroll in service-learning and they are involved in many different types of work and projects. Here’s what several of the students who did service-learning in 2015 shared about their experiences:

Macey at Douglas Head Start
Macey at Douglas Head Start

I decided to do service-learning because I love working with children and wanted to tie that in with helping someone. By working at Douglas Head Start, I got to gain some experience working with children while helping the teachers at the same time. I loved my experience here. Children in this age group are so loving and hungry for knowledge. They are more than willing to hear what you have to say and respond to it. As my service-learning was for my nutrition class, I focus my time helping the children to understand that in a couple different ways. During free play I spend a lot of time in the cooking area with the kids discussing the health benefits of the different “foods” they are making. During meal times we discuss the different options they have and which are considered to be healthier. This experience helped me understand my coursework better because I got to see how others respond to being taught about nutrition. It also made me want to remember my coursework in more detail so that when the children asked questions, and they asked a lot, I have the answers for them.
Macey Hausam, Childhood Education & Family Studies
Completed service-learning at OACAC Douglas Head Start, Spring 2015

My experience with OPB was extremely beneficial; they have helped me make connections and become more involved with the entertainment industry. Throughout my time with them, I made programs and certificates, sold raffle tickets at events and worked with suppliers and vendors. Being involved with service-learning has pushed me, not only to be the best I can for OPB, but to really excel in my involvement with other organizations on campus. I am able to apply what I have learned from my MGT 310 course to my actual work with OPB. My sense of leadership and charisma have only brightened, and I have CASL and OPB to thank for that.
Clara Wehmeyer, Management
Completed service-learning at Ozarks Public Broadcasting (OPB), Fall 2015

I chose to do service-learning at the Dickerson Park Zoo because I’m an animal lover, a pre-vet major and I already work with dogs and cats at work so I wanted a new experience. I enjoyed working with new animals that I would normally only see behind a fence. I helped clean and feed all the animals in a particular area of the zoo. The experience was very eye opening. It was hard work, but I gained a new respect for people who work with exotic animals. Doing service-learning helped me to see more job opportunities for my major that I may not have considered before.
Rachel Mitchell, Biology
Completed service-learning at Dickerson Park Zoo, Fall 2015

Leah at the Fairbanks
Leah at the Fairbanks

The Fairbanks interested me because it’s a place that is focused on making the local community a better place and reaching out to members of the community who are in need. My experience at the Fairbanks was really great. The people at the Fairbanks are very kind and appreciate any and all the help they receive. What I enjoy most about working at the Fairbanks is getting to interact one-on-one with the community members and see the smiles that we help put on their faces. It’s truly gratifying. Being involved at the Fairbanks has helped me understand how difficult it can be for a low-income family to get proper nutrition. Sure, you can learn all about what you should and shouldn’t eat, but actually putting that knowledge to use in a real-life situation is harder than you’d think. Service-learning at the Fairbanks has been a great opportunity for me to make a change in the lives of our neighbors.
Leah Brand, Biomedical Sciences
Completed service-learning at the Fairbanks, Fall 2015

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Service-Learning Spotlight: Kristin Lierz

Although she had a full-time job and a 13-credit hour load this semester, Childhood Education and Family Studies student Kristin Lierz still took on the challenge of service-learning. She made an impact at Robberson Community School, where she helped teach Math to 2nd and 3rd graders. While she was only required to complete a minimum of 40 service hours, she spent 60 hours at the school because she enjoyed being in a classroom and loved working with the kids. She recently shared more information about her service-learning experience.

Kristin helps students with an assignment.
Kristin helps students with an assignment.

1) Why did you choose to take on service-learning?
I decided to do service-learning because I love working with children or students, and this semester I didn’t have a practicum or something for a class to put me in the classroom. Also, the staff who presented about service-learning in my MTH 360 class mentioned it is a great resume builder, as well as getting connections, which I have to say is a plus in doing it.

2) What interested you about being involved with Robberson Community School?
I got interested in Roberson Community School because I really like being in a classroom and wanted to work in Title 1 schools because I grew up in that kind of environment. I also wanted to learn more about what a community school is.

3) How was your experience?
It has been really amazing. I would recommend this to a friend or anybody who is interested in service-learning. I learned a lot and the teacher I’m helping taught me things that I would use in my future classroom, as well as in my education classes at Missouri State University.

4) What kind of things did you do at Robberson Community School?
I pretty much worked with students in small groups or sometimes individually. One time we had a substitute and she wanted me to try and teach the lesson; there was a teacher there for support but she wanted to see if I could handle it, and I think it went well. The students understood the information in the lesson.

5) What did you enjoy most about working with this program?
I would have to say the students are the reason I chose to do this and they are the reason why I’m in the field of teaching. Also, the staff at Roberson Community School are super nice and very comforting. Every day that I went in to the school, the principal was there to greet me, and the staff always said hello and smiled. My teacher whom I worked with is a pretty incredible person. She and I have bonded and she taught me a lot. She’s a very positive role model in my educating experience.

Kristin with some of her students.
Kristin with some of her students.

6) Why do you think the work your organization is doing/issue it is addressing is important?
Roberson Community School is addressing the importance of education, as well as helping others by being warm, caring and providing resources to those who need them. One of the reasons why I like this school is the way they relate and understand their students and community. The people who work here are not only very helpful, but they are also very kind and I think the community needs kindness more than anything else.

7) How has being involved in service-learning and this particular program helped you understand your coursework better?
It’s easy for a student to remember all of the Math concepts, but it’s hard to teach them in the classroom. This program has taught me how to apply the concepts in the classroom, and also try to keep the classroom management proportion. So I’m not only learning about things for MTH 360, but a combination of all of my classes together.

According to Jennifer Carnahan, the 2nd & 3rd grade teacher who supervised Kristin, Kristin was a “gift from God” as this was her first semester teaching at Robberson and she was looking for an aid in her classroom.

“Kristin has been a real help. The students at our school are a bit fragile so the reliability of the professionals in the building is extremely important. She went above and beyond in this area. She showed up every day and always stayed longer than scheduled to finish whatever she was doing with the individual student. The kids loved her and she built a relationship with them.”

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Bringing the Gift of Hearing and Speech to Nicaragua

Since 2012, a team of faculty and students from Missouri State University’s (MSU) Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) have been impacting the lives of hundreds of Nicaraguans with hearing and speech disabilities.

Through the study away service learning program, faculty and students travel to Nicaragua and spend a week in the country providing hearing aids and screenings, speech and language assessments, and follow-up services to adults and children.

Dr. DiSarno fits a patient with new hearing aids.
Dr. DiSarno fits a patient with new hearing aids.

The program came to birth in fall 2011 when Dr. Michael Steer, then an audiology doctoral student, approached Dr. Neil DiSarno, the department chair at the time, with a proposal for a service-oriented study away program that would provide hearing aids to individuals in Nicaragua. With help from Barry and Chris Lydon, Dr. Steer’s in-laws, who are missionaries in Nicaragua, the first trip came to fruition in March 2012 with Dr. DiSarno and Dr. Letitia White, the current department chair, as co-directors.

Following the success of the initial trip, there have been four other trips led by Dr. White and CSD Professor Dr. Lisa Proctor, with another one scheduled for May 2015. More than 40 CSD students have participated in the trips thus far, serving more than 200 Nicaraguans in need.

While the first three trips focused primarily on conducting screenings and providing hearing aids and follow-up services, the two trips last year not only offered follow-up services, but also included visits to three special schools to help children with severe disabilities, as well as workshops to teach the staff about understanding hearing loss and augmentative and alternative communication and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

According to Dr. White, the upcoming May trip will continue the work in the three schools. There will be several special education staff joining the trip specifically to work with non-verbal and autistic children. In addition, audiology graduate students will engage in a project to determine how those who have been fitted with hearing aids are benefiting from them.

Hearing Screening
Students conduct a hearing screening.

“Our goal is to develop and maintain relationships with the individuals with communication disorders and their families, as well as the staff of the special schools in order to provide sustainable services. We’ve found that these long-term relationships are critical in ensuring we provide services that are truly valued by the communities rather than what we think they need,” Dr. White explained. “We want to be culturally sensitive and make sure whatever clinical services we’re offering the Nicaraguan people are valuable for them.”

Dr. White and Dr. Proctor point out that the needs of those struggling with communication disorders in Nicaragua are different than in the U.S. because of several key factors—lack of access to technology, delay in early intervention, economic disadvantages and poor referral process as there are not enough professionals like speech pathologists and audiologists in the country who can help. As such, sustainability is a huge challenge and that is why the department has made a long-term commitment to this program.

Besides the opportunity for MSU’s CSD students to grow professionally and help deserving people in another country, the program’s benefits are many. For one, they get a crash course in cultural awareness as they work in a different environment and with a diverse group of people.

“The exposure enables them to better deal with individuals who are different than themselves when they come home and build confidence in working with a lot of people in unfamiliar situations,” Dr. Proctor said.

“They also see for themselves that happiness comes in different shapes and forms—not necessarily a new car or big house. While many of the Nicaraguans are poor, they’re happy and gracious,” Dr. White added.

Dr. Proctor and a student evaluate a child's communication ability.
Dr. Proctor and a student evaluate a child’s communication ability.

Another key benefit is the interprofessional collaboration between audiology and speech students and staff. They get to work hands-on alongside each other and experience for themselves what the other discipline does.

One good example of this occurred on one of the recent trips. Dr. White recalled how the audiology team had issues trying to test the hearing of a young boy with cerebral palsy so they referred him to the speech team to assess his communication ability. They used a simple communication board with pictures to engage him and he was able to pick up the pictures and put them in order. Seeing this happen, the audiology team were able to administer the hearing test successfully.

“It was an aha moment on how two disciplines can work together and go outside of the box to accomplish a goal despite the lack of resources,” Dr. White shared.

“I definitely enjoyed the collaboration with the audiology students,” said Jessie Goben, a CSD speech graduate student, who joined the January 2014 trip when she was an undergraduate and is part of the team going in May. “The experience taught me the importance of teamwork and how to build rapport with clients. After coming back, I had more confidence in putting my skills into practice.”

After five inspiring trips, there have been many memorable and rewarding moments. One in particular that stands out for both Dr. White and Dr. Proctor involved a mother and her daughter who was about 8-years-old. The team had just completed a screening at a church and were all packed up to head to the next location, which was an orphanage, when the pair showed up. So the team put them on the bus and when they reached the orphanage, the girl was screened and fitted with a hearing aid as she had hearing loss. Her mom was so thrilled and cried because her daughter was very shy and reserved, had been teased and picked on, and did not have many friends.

“We’ve seen this girl grow on subsequent visits and her mom has told us that she is much more communicative,” Dr. Proctor shared.

“Standing alone, both service-learning and study away are great teaching tools, but combined together, they’re even more impactful,” Dr. White said. “I wish every student could have this experience.”

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Service Learning Spotlight: Lindsey Hathaway

To gain hands-on experience in her field of study and at the same time explore her interest of working with children, Social Work student Lindsey Hathaway chose to take on a service-learning course this semester, securing a placement in the Early Child Care & Education program at the Development Center of the Ozarks (DCO). She recently spoke to a Citizenship and Service-Learning (CASL) staff about what it’s like to help teach and interact with a group of energetic toddlers.

Lindsey engages the kids with a book.
Lindsey engages the kids in her classroom with a book.

Why did you choose to serve at the DCO?
I was referred by someone from a previous job and I love working with children.

How has your service-learning experience been so far?
It has been good. I’ve learned new things about teaching children.

What have you learned from doing service-learning?
I’ve learned that teachers really do work hard on discipline with children. For example, the two-year-olds I work with have been taught how to sit and wait quietly before doing activities.

What kind of work do you do at the DCO?
I help entertain the children while the teacher is getting things prepared. I also clean, assist with nap time and gather things from other classrooms.

What is one of the most interesting projects you’ve helped with / what do you enjoy most about working at the DCO?
I really enjoy interacting with the children. It’s fun to see how they interact with one another. I also had the pleasure to help them with their art time. I worked with two children on their colors and numbers during the art project.

How have you managed to balance service-learning with your studies and part-time job?
I set aside one day a week, sometimes two, to do my service-learning. It has worked out very well.

What advice would you have for students who are considering doing service-learning?
​Get involved with an organization that you would actually enjoy working in.


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Service-Learning Students Say…

Each semester, Missouri State University’s service-learning students contribute hundreds of hours of service to a host of local non-profit organizations, schools and government agencies as part of their academic coursework while also addressing various social issues like poverty, homelessness, healthcare and education. Here’s what several of the students shared about their experiences:

I did service-learning because I wanted to get a better feel of what it was like to do actual scientific research. It was of great benefit to me for three reasons. First, I was able to befriend two wonderful scientists who were willing to answer all of my curious questions and inform me about the overall procedures and purpose of what we were doing. I’m still able contact them if I ever have questions. Second, I gained a plethora of knowledge about advanced lab techniques that are used ubiquitously in modern research. Rather than just reading about these procedures in a textbook, I was able to see them unfold right before my eyes. Lastly, I was able to step back and appreciate all of the interconnected steps and multiple people it takes to make a full research project come to fruition. Working in the animal surgery room was my favorite part of the experience as I got to help perform multiple live surgeries on rats.
Evan Wilson, Jordan Valley Innovation Center, Fall 2014

I chose to do service-learning because it allowed me to be in the classroom and experience what being a teacher is like. I had no idea what Title I schools looked like and working at Robberson gave me that experience. I loved being able to be around kids almost every day of the week as I assisted them with Math. I also gained great friendships with the teachers I worked with and I felt like I was part of the school and could turn to them if I had questions.
Brittney Hartman, Robberson Community School, Fall 2014

Service-learning has given me opportunities to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do or experience otherwise. My time at the Gillioz has taught me so much! Sitting in a classroom retaining enough knowledge to be able to pass a test is great, but going out and getting your hands dirty, actually doing the work, that is what you’ll remember. I’ve been exposed to the ins and outs of making a concert happen, and been able to help in the process of seeing it through.
Audrey Mathis, Gillioz Theatre, Fall 2014

I chose to do service-learning because as a social work major, I believe it’s important to interact with and serve people in the community. Having a broader range of connections strengthens my ability to help my clients reach their needs in the future. The experience benefited me not only professionally and academically, but also personally. I got to gain first-hand exposure to some of the situations I may have to deal with as a social worker and advocate, as well as take what I had done at the Rare Breed and apply them to things being taught in the classroom.
Johnathan Boddie, Rare Breed, Spring 2014

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Service Learning Spotlight: Cassie Donahue

One of the most popular placement sites for Missouri State University (MSU) service-learning students each semester is the Discovery Center of Springfield (DCS). Biomedical Sciences major Cassie Donahue completed 40 hours of service there last fall semester and found it to be an enriching experience. She recently gave some insight into her time at the DCS and how undertaking service-learning has helped her.

Cassie takes care of the aquarium at the ChromoZone.
Cassie takes care of the aquarium at the ChromoZone.

Why did you decide to do service-learning?
I wanted to start getting involved in the “real-world” scene behind biomedical science. When I discovered I would have the opportunity to volunteer at the DCS, I was thrilled at the thought of being able to teach what I love to others.

How was your service-learning experience?
Very rewarding! Working at the DCS is fun and fulfilling, and I love getting to share my passion about science with others.

What have you learned from doing service-learning?
Teaching and guiding children and teens through science is rewarding, and a worthwhile investment of my time. In high school, I struggled with chemistry so I was turned off to all science for a long time. Looking back, I really regret that, considering how much I love and appreciate the field of chemistry now. Knowing I can help others discover their passion for whatever field of science it is makes me smile, and preventing them from going through the same negative experience as me gives me a huge sense of purpose.

What kind of work did you do at the Discovery Center?
I assisted with experiments in the ChromoZone (the life sciences area), general lab set up and clean up, and various tasks, including mixing and making solutions for exhibits (chick wringer, buffer for gel electrophoresis, agar plates, etc).

What did you enjoy most about working at the Discovery Center?
I enjoyed assisting visitors with the “DNA Extraction” experiment. Generally, people are very interested in what DNA is and why it matters, and watching them be able to extract it and have a tangible product of the experiment is insightful. Most of the visitors that partake in the experiment have good questions and are eager to learn more, and being able to answer their questions and ultimately explain why science matters is great.

Cassie monitors the Chick Incubator.
Cassie monitors the Chick Incubator.

What advice would you give students who are considering doing service-learning?
Do it! Now! Don’t wait. My supervisor has been so flexible with my schedule, and the benefits I reap from the service-learning experience far outweigh any academically-related accolade.

According to DCS ChromoZone Program Coordinator Sara Coffman, both MSU students and her organization benefit greatly from the Citizenship and Service-Learning (CASL) program.

“Our resources are very limited so having CASL students who are more than just “one-time volunteers” allows us to set aside time for training and develop program material that otherwise would not be able to be completed,” she explained. “They, in turn, are able to invest their time and talent into helping our organization reach our goals of providing creative, informative and hands-on discoveries about the sciences and the world around us.”


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Service Learning Spotlight: Katlyn Gardner

It’s not every day one gets to interact with wild animals up close and personal. But Wildlife Biology student Katlyn Gardner got to do just that this fall—thanks to her service-learning experience at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield. A Citizenship and Service-Learning (CASL) staff visited her recently during one of her shifts at the zoo to find out more about why she decided to do service-learning and how she has benefited from the exposure.

Why did you decide to do service-learning?
I knew service-learning would give me an opportunity to work at the Dickerson Park Zoo and I really wanted to do this. Visiting zoos when I was younger got me interested in wildlife biology and I saw this as a perfect way to get my feet wet in the field.

Katlyn interacts with a Touraco bird.

How did you secure your placement at Dickerson Park Zoo?
I decided to do service-learning quite late in the semester so I spoke with a CASL staff to see if I could still do it. She said yes as long as the zoo was willing to accept me. I called the director and it all worked out.

How has your service-learning experience been?
It’s been a good learning experience as I get to observe animal behavior first-hand and pick up on all the little facts about the different animals.

What have you learned from doing service-learning?
I’ve learned a lot about the animals such as their needs and life expectancy, and how to communicate with them. It’s great to benefit from the knowledge the zookeepers have and I’ve realized there are no stupid questions when it comes to learning about animals.

On average, how often do you work at the zoo?
One to two times a week for a few hours each day.

Katlyn cleans the lemurs' enclosure.
Katlyn cleans the lemurs’ enclosure.

What kind of work do you do at the zoo?
I prepare food for the animals and help to feed them, clean their stalls and enrich their environments to keep them active.

What do you enjoy most about working at the zoo?
Working here has definitely solidified my choice to pursue this major and career pathway. Before, I was pretty sure this is what I wanted to do, but I had concerns if I was overglamourizing the job or if I was cut out for it as I’m more of a “girly” girl. Through this experience, I know I love doing this type of work and I want to be around animals and care for them.

How do you juggle your busy schedule as a student with doing service-learning?
It’s tough as I’m pretty involved on campus, but I chose to make service-learning a priority this semester. I also have a support system that motivates me to stay busy and the zoo staff have been good about working with my schedule so I can get this done.

According to Sarah Dunham, the zoo’s assistant zookeeper, students like Katlyn benefit the zoo because they help to get a lot of stuff done in terms of caring for the animals.

“We also get to engage in knowledge exchange. We teach them about the animals and the zoo, but we also learn from them,” she said. “When their work with us is done and they leave us with so much more knowledge about the different animals, they become one of our best ambassadors for conservation and wildlife management.”

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Instilling in Kids a Love for Opera

Every Thursday, after the school day ends at Robberson Community School, a group of about 16 kids gather excitedly in the school’s gymnasium to participate in a lively Opera Workshop made possible through Missouri State University’s (MSU) service-learning program.

Dr. Daehn (center) leads the group in a warm-up exercise.

The workshop began last year as part of the integrated service-learning element in the MUS 193: Opera Workshop course led by Dr. Ann Marie Wilcox-Daehn, MSU’s director of opera and assistant professor of voice, and was held for the second time this fall.  During the 45-minute workshop, Dr. Daehn and her 16 students engage the Robberson kids in singing, music, dancing and drama, as well as hands-on activities related to opera such as making puppets and designing costumes.

“It’s a perfect environment for the kids to release their energy after a long day in class, play with each other, make discoveries about the arts and explore their creativity,” Dr. Daehn explained. “We’re investing in the school because music and the arts help kids learn and become successful. We want to create a generation of kids who appreciate the arts and have the ability to see the heart of music as something timeless.”

Besides teaching the kids about opera in a fun and interactive way, the MUS 193 students get to build positive relationships with them and impart into their lives.

According to Mr. Christian Mechlin, community resource coordinator at Robberson, the connection established between the students and the kids is one of the main reasons why the kids love participating in the workshop each week.

“That relationship is huge for our kids and provides them with positive adult role models who care and are there for them on a consistent basis, and that is one of the biggest pieces of a child’s development,” Mr. Mechlin shared.

He added that extracurricular activities promoting the arts like the Opera Workshop are very important for the kids at Robberson as they offer a lot more exposure outside of what is provided through the school. Furthermore, the activities support education that happens during a normal school day, building literacy, oral communication, confidence and a host of other skills that drive student success in the classroom.

For Dr. Daehn’s students, over 85 percent of them indicated in a mid-term survey that they found the service-learning opportunity at Robberson to be worthwhile and extremely worthwhile, while 100 percent agreed it was important and extremely important to engage in the opera outreach.

Ruthie helps three kids with an activity.

One of those students is Ruthie Carter, a sophomore music major. What she enjoys most about the workshop is the creative freedom it provides and seeing the kids’ imagination.

“I’ve forgotten how wild their imaginations really are and it’s been a blast listening to their ideas,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to teach music, but I was unsure of what age group. Thanks to this program, I’ve found that I really like working with elementary school kids!”

While her MUS 193 class is made up of both education students and performance students who may not have a desire to teach music, Dr. Daehn is glad they all see the value of the experience at Robberson. The positive nature of their feedback surpassed her wildest expectations.

“Not only do they get to share their passion for music and drama with the kids, but they’re also building cultural competence—a desire and ability to understand and interact with people of different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and family dimensions,” Dr. Daehn said.

The smiles on the kids’ faces and the warm hugs they give out when they see their MSU big brothers and sisters at the weekly workshops are proof of the deep and lasting bonds that develop over a shared enjoyment of the arts—thanks to the Opera Workshop.


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Service Learning Spotlight: Bradley White

Bradley at the CoxHealth Foundation office.

Communication student Bradley White took the opportunity to gain service-learning experience this fall through his Principles of Public Relations course. He got a placement at CoxHealth Foundation, a division of CoxHealth that is responsible for generating current and endowed support for the hospital and its affiliates. Bradley has been working in the Foundation office since September for an average of three hours, twice a week. He was happy to share his positive experience with the Citizenship and Service-Learning (CASL) office.

How did you secure your placement at CoxHealth?
I heard about the service-learning opportunity in my PR class and got more information about it from the CASL office, including a list of places communication majors have gone to before. I called CoxHealth Foundation, went through an interview and was accepted.

Why did you choose to do service-learning?
I wanted to supplement my classroom learning and service-learning allowed me to get academic credit, valuable hands-on experience and an opportunity to give back to the community.

How has your experience been?
It’s been a great learning experience and the staff are nice and helpful. My direct boss, Laurie, has been nothing but kind. She gives me tasks to do and the independence to take them on. She’s also good about working with my schedule.

Bradley prepares T-shirts for an event.
Bradley prepares T-shirts for an event.

What are some of your responsibilities?
Besides helping with day-to-day tasks in the office, I’m involved in events planning, primarily on sponsorships and fundraising. Right now, I’m working on a big philanthropic event called Wrap it Up on Dec. 4 at the Ramada Oasis, which includes dinner, entertainment, a gingerbread tower competition and a live auction. I’m in charge of getting prizes for the auction and calling local bakeries to participate in the competition.

How has service-learning enhanced your educational experience?
From a communication aspect, I’ve learned a lot about building relationships and making connections with people in the community. I’ve also improved my organizational skills and got to be involved in helping meet healthcare needs in the community. It’s rewarding to work at an organization where you can see the direct impact of what you’re doing on people’s lives.

What’s your advice to students who are considering taking service-learning?
Go for it and find a way to make it take precedence because you’ll gain hands-on experience that will help in the future rather than just sitting in the classroom. I’m a good example of a student who’s super busy, but I managed to do it so don’t be afraid to take the opportunity.

According to Laurie Solsby, CoxHealth Foundation senior development officer, her department has taken on many service-learning students like Bradley over the past few years and they are a big help.

“I find that service-learning students are more committed to the job and ready to be in a professional environment compared with student volunteers,” she said. “We only have three staff working on fundraising in this department so for every hour of work service-learning students do, there’s less work for us. Furthermore, because they’re younger, they help us be more open to fresh and innovative ideas.”

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