University Service-Learning: Learning by Helping | Top Universities

University Service-Learning: Learning by Helping

By Staff Writer

Updated March 5, 2016 Updated March 5, 2016

University service-learning allows you to make a difference to the local community, not only alongside your degree but as part of it!

This is the idea behind the service-learning program at Colorado State University in the US. The scheme allows students to complete work placements in community-focused organizations, in sectors relating to their academic areas of interest.

Third-year undergraduate student Kayla Myers, who is majoring in human development and family studies, says service-learning has made her education feel ‘complete’.

She explains, “My classes are educational of course, but service-learning has created a dynamic aspect that only challenges me to keep growing and use what I am learning. I know where there is need in my career field, and what I can do about it.”

Kayla’s service-learning placement has been with non-profit organization Child Safe, which was looking for volunteers to work with children who had experienced traumas, including sexual abuse.

This presented an opportunity for Kayla to gain practical experience relating to course modules such as Child Psychotherapy and Social Work, and also to pursue her interest in yoga therapy – which is shared by Margit Hentschel, director of the service-learning program.

Having collaborated with Margit to develop and teach a yoga therapy course for children involved with Child Safe, Kayla is now leading her own yoga sessions. She also volunteers as a babysitter for Child Safe children, to enable parents to attend counselling sessions.

“Working with these kids gives me the hands-on experience that brings my classes to life,” Kayla says. “Without this interchange of wisdom and experience, my education would not seem complete.”

She also emphasizes the benefits of receiving support and advice from the university.

“Checking in with Margit on my work has been nothing short of insightful and encouraging. Her knowledge is so priceless, and having the opportunity to bounce around ideas and philosophies inspires me to keep growing and creating opportunities for myself.”

In terms of her future career plans, Kayla is in no doubt that service-learning has helped her to identify her goals, and also improved her chances of achieving them.

“I am gaining professional experience in therapeutic yoga that I would not have had the chance to do otherwise, and have discovered that I am passionate about it.

“I know that I want to work with at-risk children, and now I have a tool that I can use with them for the entirety of my career.”

She adds that the opportunity to establish professional contacts has been particularly valuable. “Now I have references from therapists, as well as a connection to a non-profit whose goals and work I deeply admire.”

Sounds like a pretty persuasive argument for anyone not sure whether to give service-learning a try!

This article was originally published in October 2012 . It was last updated in March 2016

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