The value of service-learning is well documented in testimonials from faculty, students, and community partners. Here are a few statements from WMU students, faculty, and partners:
Western Michigan University Students
Jessica, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology
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. Service is not so much about what you do; it’s who you are.
Kylie, Haworth College of Business
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, MI. In the first project, my team assessed the likelihood of a 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. The experience helped instill in me a desire to live and work in a community where civic engagement is built into the culture. I believe Western Michigan University and the Haworth College of Business are promoting such an environment for their students.
Kelsey, Social Work Major
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.
Erin, Organizational Communication Major, Nonprofit Leadership Minor
Never before have I been in a class where I truly had to apply everything I had learned in all my courses to problem solve. Community organizing… changed me in so many positive ways and taught me more than I could ever imagine. I learned about leadership in the real world and became aware of skills I didn't realize I had. The class focuses on mobilizing a collection of people to become a community, and I'm proud that, because of our work in class, our site became a community.
The students from Lakeside Academy were very engaged in the activity and loved hearing our stories about college, and they shared with us their dreams and hopes for the future. As they learned from me, I also learned a great deal from them. I have learned a great deal through service learning and it has helped clear the path that leads to my future.
Out of the various ways to get involved on campus, the Office of service learning at WMU has provided more than a gateway to serving the community. It has been one of the pillars for me to not only engage in service at WMU but within the Kalamazoo community also. It has also taught me how significant service to the community is by learning to bridge the gap not only between what's taught in the classroom through the application of service but bridging the gap between ourselves and our society as a whole.
Western Michigan University Administrators
Former President Dr. John Dunn
WMU embraces an academic and egalitarian approach to service learning, encouraging organizations and residents of our community to join with our students, faculty, staff, and administrators to create solutions to social problems and create lasting, sustainable change.
Bob Miller, Associate Vice President for Community Outreach
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!
Shawn Tenney, Director of service learning
As the director of service learning, I have the privilege of working with numerous stakeholders, including students, professors/instructors, and community partners which allows me to witness firsthand the impact of intentional collaborations on both students and the communities we serve.
Dr. Barbara Barton, Social Work Professor
Service learning can transform lives. As a Social Work professor, my ‘textbook’ is the community. From a personal and professional perspective, service learning has enriched my life, and I’m proud to be associated with a University that values it as a Learner-Centered approach to engaging the student.
Richard Szwaja, Instructor
As an instructor, I have found that [service learning] has a profound impact on the students’ ability to fully grasp subject matter, to more completely own her/his own learning of it, and to more effectively apply the material to her/his life-long learning experience.