The value of service-learning is well documented in the testimonies and reflections of Western Michigan University faculty and staff, students and community partners.

University faculty and staff

  • "Experiential learning and community service are important ingredients in a well-rounded student career at WMU. When these can be combined as in service-learning, it is truly the best of both worlds. The student, the University and the community all benefit. Everybody wins!"

    Bob Miller, Associate Vice President for Community Outreach
  • "Service-learning engages the students and instills leadership skills for nonprofit organizations and corporations alike as the same leadership principles apply to both."

    Dr. Timothy Palmer, Professor of Management
    2012 WMU Excellence in Service-Learning Award Recipient
    2011 Michigan Campus Compact Community Service-Learning Award Recipient


  • "Service is an integral part of building a stronger community and building more understanding and accepting relationships with others. I feel that we all have an obligation to our communities—locally, nationally, and globally. Having said this, however, it never feels like an obligation. I have had the privilege of serving my community in many ways over the years, from local service to international humanitarian relief trips. With each project and each year that passes, it is a joy and an honor to have the privilege of serving others. I have found much meaning in my life and in myself through service and it has allowed me to feel a personal bond with my local and global community. Service is not so much about what you do; it's who you are."

    Jessica Edel-Harrelson
    Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology 
    Executive Director, SIREN/Eaton Shelter 
    2012 Michigan Campus Compact Heart and Soul Award Recipient
  • "To me, service means giving a part of myself to the rest of the world, specifically those who are in need. I think that the world should be viewed more as give and take, instead of how many Americans just take and take. We were put on this earth to make it better, and we cannot change the world unless we strive to help those who are in need and those who are less fortunate. Service means spending time working to make the world better than we found it. This can be done through active participation or donating money, but I believe hands on efforts toward changing the world are the most impacting. A quote that I really like is 'I can change the world with my own two hands.' Service is fundamental for a better world."

    Erin Kaplan
    School of Communication
    2011-12 President, Western Student Association
    2012 Michigan Campus Compact Heart and Soul Award Recipient
  • "Social Work 4650 (Building Blocks) turned out to be one of the best courses I have ever taken throughout my four years at Western. I found that the Building Blocks program and the residents I worked with taught me more than any traditional class ever could have. I was able to develop my leadership, problem-solving and organizational skills in a hands-on setting with extremely rewarding end results. This course helped me to truly appreciate the city of Kalamazoo and its residents. I would highly recommend this course to any student interested in breaking away from a traditional class room setting and working hands-on with residents of Kalamazoo. SW4650, in conjunction with the residents of Building Blocks, has taught me many skills and life-lessons that I plan on utilizing for years to come."

    Kelsey Westwood
    School of Social Work
  • "During my final semester at WMU I had the privilege of managing two feasibility studies for the Haworth College of Business under the direction of Dr. Tim Palmer. Both of the studies required intensive research and analysis of the community, business environment, and demographics of the Edison area in Kalamazoo, Mich. In the first project, my team assessed the likelihood of a HAC-sponsored daycare succeeding in the neighborhood. The second study looked at establishing a Cultural Expo to promote the areas unique heritage and diversity in the surrounding communities. Both projects required associates and managers to immerse themselves in the culture of the neighborhood in order to better understand our clients goals and situation. It is safe to say that the process taught us as much about civil and social responsibility as it did about the course objectives of project and team management.

    Working with the HAC helped reinforce my belief in the importance of social responsibility and the impact organization, such as this, have on people's lives. I have continued to stay involved in the community while pursuing my MBA at the University of Oklahoma. I volunteer at many of the club sponsored fundraisers at OU as well as co-sponsor a family during the holiday seasons back home in Wyoming.

    During my time at Western Michigan University I participated in a number of events aimed at raising money or support for local community organizations or causes. From blood drives to charity walks, WMU does an incredible job of engaging its students and challenging them to get involved. In a more indirect way, Dr. Palmer's project management courses helps to promote the same theme amongst the business students at the Haworth College of Business. During both of my project management courses I worked with nonprofits that were striving to improve the lives of Michigan residents. The experience helped instill in me a desire to live a work in a community where civil engagement is built into the culture. I believe Western Michigan University and the Haworth College of Business are promoting such an environment for its students."

    Kylie Vasa
    Haworth College of Business
  • "In order to fulfill one of the big highlights of this course, the service-learning, I worked with Ms. Donna Odom from the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society. The mission of this society is to research and document the history of African Americans in the Southwest Michigan region, and educate the community.

    As a student getting ready to graduate within the next two weeks, this service-learning served as an extremely helpful and interesting learning tool. I have never had the mind of an entrepreneur, so having the opportunity to speak to a successful one was an eye-opener to me. I took an entrepreneurship class and learned about many different concepts that involved allocating resources and finding people with parallel goals to accomplish common objectives.

    The oral history project is a recollection of inspiring stories of the African-American community in this region. I can't imagine how meaningful and how much of an impact this has on the African-American community, if it had such a great impact on me, and I am not even African-American. I am a person who is interested in people's stories; I love communicating with people and establishing common grounds. I enjoyed working with Donna in this project so much, that I will be an intern with her next semester and I will continue aiding her with her many projects. It will be rewarding for me to collaborate with such a meaningful person, while I job hunt in the United States. I can't wait to meet more inspiring people like Mr. Stewart, and listen to their stories!"

    Paola Badia
    Haworth College of Business