Education - Page 12 - Community, from page 1

- Page 12
Community, from page 1
lifelong friends and connections as just some of the benefit.

Locally, students join with organizations that support animals like DogFest as well as Relay for Life, which honors cancer survivors and raises funds for cancer research and is student-run at Stevenson.

“It’s a valuable proponent of community for Stevenson University,” Schwartz notes. “Students get leadership experience, team building and they are creating memories.They see the importance of giving back and also the opportunity to learn from others with different backgrounds and different experiences.”

Schwartz says participation creates “aha” moments for students, and community involvement adds to the educational experience as students learn about themselves, and they also learn about history, social and political interactions.

Since around 1990, service learning also has been a key component for UMBC students through the Shriver Center, with its mission to address critical social challenges by bridging the campus and the community, and the community back to campus, through engaged scholarship and applied learning, says Michele Wolff, director of the Shriver Center.

At the Shriver Center, four primary programs address a focus on service learning and community engagement.

“We provide space and experiences for students to learn perspectives different from their own and learn about people and places they wouldn’t learn about if we didn’t have these types of programs,”Wolff says.

The Shriver Center leadership works closely with community partners to identify needs and determine ways to solve social challenges with the help of student engagement. Students see the strength of partnership and how members collectively work toward addressing issues.

“It’s a great way for many students to get a sense and significant experience to test out a major or think about career pathways,”Wolff says. “There are many ways to transform experiences for students and take what they are learning in class and apply it.”

Service learning programs through the Shriver Center are considered “zero credit,” with notation on student transcripts but reflect a semester-long commitment of community engagement. Students choose one of four opportunities. One is Choice, a partnership program that provides 50 AmeriCorps members the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of youth living in Maryland’s highest risk communities. Recent college graduates, the Choice AmeriCorps Fellows provide caring adult relationships in the hopes of fostering healthy development and resiliency among youth who face adverse individual or environmental challenges in their daily lives.

Other opportunities include the level Shriver Peace Worker Fellowship Program for Peace Corps returnees who enroll in graduate level programs of study and partner with community-based organizations or government agencies through graduate assistantships and reflection seminars, during which students learn about social, political and economic issues as part of fully-funded, two-year graduate assistantships.

Regardless of the program, Wolff explains the long-term impact of community engagement.

“We’d love for students to see it as something that becomes part of their lifestyle,” Wolff notes, “even if they don’t go into public service or nonprofit service.They can see how they impact things moving forward.”

The Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy also has incorporated service learning into its program for four main reasons, says Anne Lin, PharmD, dean of the school of pharmacy. The students learn values and skill sets, apply what they are learning and have the opportunity to develop compassion. The overarching belief of the school is that students can make an impact in the community, she notes.

“We incorporate service learning in the curriculum,” she says. “We want students to be engaged in the community after graduation.”

A key characteristic of professionalism is altruism, she adds. Service learning provides students the opportunity to apply what they are learning as they learn it.

“To be a compassionate, effective pharmacist is not only to have gained the knowledge but to have developed compassion and empathy. They need to feel what patients go through – you can’t teach that in a classroom.”

Each year of pharmacy school, students participate in the school’s community service projects (see sidebar). Juniors and seniors are part of Advocaring, which provides advocacy services for community members through organizations like My Sister’s Place, Helping Up Mission, Build and others. Students serve nonprofits in teams educating community members about issues like diabetes and medication management and even administer flu vaccines.

Co-curricular requirements dictate that students are involved in the community at health fairs, in school educational seminars, blood pressure screenings and flu vaccinations. Each year, the senior class plans and runs a community health fair. Third-year students spend two semesters partnered with an elderly member of the community and during regular home visits discuss medications and other health needs. The program also includes an educational component on the opioid crisis, teaching students to use naloxone to be able to save lives if necessary.

“Pharmacists don’t just count, stick, lick and pour,” Lin says.

Through Notre Dame’s pharmacy community service program, students have collectively contributed in excess of 20,000 hours to the city of Baltimore since 2009. •