More than 200 first-year students from the College of Allied Health Sciences will spend their spring applying their classroom education to the real world as part of a service-learning program, now in its second year.
The students met with representatives from local nonprofit organizations at the college’s annual Service-Learning Fair, Friday, Jan. 28. First-year students are required to dedicate 20 hours of their spring volunteering at a local agency, and many were looking for ways to expand on their chosen major.
Bethany Galati, who is majoring in health sciences with a premed track, met with inRETURN, a group providing basic services to clients who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.
She says it’s easy for students to assume that heavy textbooks and classroom study aren’t relevant to their lives.
"But once you get out there, you realize it really is important to know your stuff because that’s how you’re going to end up helping people,” she adds.
This year’s fair was a partnership between the college and UC’s Center for Community Engagement, which helps to match the student’s efforts with the real needs of the local organizations.
Program coordinator Clare Zlatic-Blankemeyer says the chosen programs complement many of the college’s programs.
"In allied health sciences, a lot of these students are going to be working in patient-client interactions,” she says. "Each of these agencies and nonprofit partners were chosen because they can help enhance student skills in those areas—whether it’s building interpersonal skills with volunteers or working with different demographics.”
The service will also tie into broader themes in students’ study, says communication sciences & disorders Associate Professor Carney Sotto, PhD.
Sotto, who directs the college’s First Year Experience, says students are reading UC President Gregory Williams’ memoir "Life on the Color Line” as part of a study on poverty.
"A lot of them will be volunteering in areas affected by poverty, so we hope that theme ties into their service and their understanding of serving people,” she says. "It’s always a surprise to the students how much they get out of it and how much they actually learn.”