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.
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.”