|How college students gain the upper hand in the job market|
|Written by Dennis HInes/Stateline News|
|Monday, 26 September 2011 14:32|
Beloit College students Addie Washington, left, and Jessica Rardin talk to fellow students Monday about the Todd Reading Club. The reading club pairs college students with students at Beloit’s Todd Elementary School to read together. The reading club is one of many ways college students are volunteering. Last school year college volunteers logged more than 44,000 hours of community service. Terry Mayer/staff
(Read the story in the Messenger e-edtion HERE.)
BELOIT — Many Beloit College students will be doing more than hitting the books this semester. Many of them will be out volunteering in the community where they'll gain valuable experience for landing a job after they graduate.
During the 2009-’10 and 2010-’11 academic years, the college was named to the President’s Higher Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes colleges and higher education institutions for their total hours of community service. Beloit College students logged 44,143 hours of community service for the 2010-’11 academic year and about 42,621 hours the previous year.
Danica Slavish, Campus and Community Outreach Center co-coordinator, said she is pleased with the number of students who volunteer in the community, considering the size of the campus.
“Considering we only have about 1,300 students here, that’s pretty remarkable …,” Slavish said. “We’re excited (about the number of students who volunteer). We’re very proud. We just want everybody to know that.”
Some of the volunteer opportunities available to students include working with local organizations, maintaining community gardens and helping with community events. Brittany Leonard, Campus and Community Outreach Center co-coordinator, said there are many volunteer opportunities for students in the Beloit area.
“We have volunteer opportunities for people all across the spectrum with hospice or assisted living,” Leonard said. “It’s pretty much everything. With the diverse group of students we have in Beloit, there’s a lot of opportunities.”
Beloit College student Rachel McCarty volunteers at Caritas Inc. in Beloit doing office work, helping in the food pantry and helping to organize hunger walks. McCarty said she enjoys volunteering with Caritas.
“It’s a really unique organization,” McCarty said. “They do a lot of good for the community. It’s a nice opportunity to help out whenever I can.”
Many Beloit College students volunteer by tutoring and working with elementary school students. The college offers the Todd Reading Club, in which volunteers read to students at Todd Elementary School in Beloit.
“We have dozens of different places where we’re doing tutoring,” said Carol Wickersham, director of community-based learning. “It’s one of the biggest volunteer opportunities, everything from preschoolers to AP (advance placement) students at the high school.
“Our students not only do volunteer tutoring, but they also run citizenship classes and GED prep classes and now nutrition and health classes.”
Student volunteer Dominique Clayton said she has been involved with the college’s reading club and has tutored at several area elementary schools. She said she enjoys working with students and helping them learn.
“The big part for me is working with children and seeing their smiling faces,” Clayton said. “Their faces light up when they learn something new. That just makes my day.”
Wickersham said several students volunteer by helping scientists with their research or by helping local artists with projects.
“Every student volunteer will be doing something beyond the classroom,” Wickersham said. “It might not be traditional volunteering as we understand it. It could be working in the community of science research or with an artist. It’s pretty exciting to think about.”
Representatives from several local organizations said they enjoy working with the students. Sherrie Swanson, volunteer coordinator for Beloit Regional Hospice, said several Beloit College students help with data entry work and interact with the hospice patients.
“They provide companionship,” Swanson said. “Most older patients love visiting with the youth. (The volunteers) are a huge help. The service they provide is very important.”
Slavish said volunteering helps students prepare for the future.
“These opportunities lead to bigger opportunities like an internship or doing research or a job that you get because you started volunteering,” Slavish said.
Clayton said she plans to enter the education field upon graduation and tutoring has given her valuable experience to help start her career.
“Working with children and volunteering and working in the community is something that is very important to have when applying to graduate school,” Clayton said. “For me, this will help me in the long run.”
Leonard said volunteering also allows students to become more familiar with the community.
“We have a lot of freshmen come in, and it’s such a critical year for them, and they want to be more involved with the actual community of Beloit,” Leonard said. “It’s so important to get people involved, and it really connects the school with the town.”
Wickersham said several students volunteer in other communities as well as in other countries when participating in internship or study abroad programs.
“It’s just not this community in terms of the work they do,” Wickersham said. “There’s students that do internships all around the world during the summer.
“We’ve got hundreds of them, so they’re doing what they learned here out in other places.”
Students who are interested in volunteering can visit the Campus and Community Outreach Center located at 700 College St. or call the center at (608) 363-2045.
“What Brittany and Danica do is help students connect up with these volunteering opportunities,” Wickersham said. “So, in some ways, they are a clearinghouse and a catalyst ... ”
Over the past few years, several students have started their own volunteer organizations, Slavish said.
“I think students really take the initiative,” Slavish said. “If they want to see a program, they really make that happen. People come in and they’re like, ‘Can we start a new club,’ and we’re like, ‘Sure.’”
Slavish said local organizations also may contact the outreach center if they are in need of volunteers.
“We’re happy to advertise any local community events on campus where they need volunteers,” Slavish said.
Wickersham said the community has worked closely with students during the past few years, which is one of the reasons why the college has been named to the President’s Higher Community Service Honor Roll.
“I think the community, itself, has been very welcoming of our students, and it’s made it easy for them to volunteer,” Wickersham said. “While (the honor roll) is given to the college, it should be jointly given to the community.”
|Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2011 14:43|