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Carroll Students Contribute to Community Through Service-Learning

Alternative Spring Break Community Service Carroll Community College

Service-learning has emerged as a powerful tool in higher education. Through hands-on experiences, students gain a deeper understanding of course material while simultaneously addressing community partner needs. Whether working with local nonprofits, schools or healthcare facilities, students encounter diverse perspectives and challenges that enrich their learning journey.

Students at Carroll can get involved by taking a course that offers a service-learning component or by participating in one of the many co-curricular programs sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement.

“We know that when students are involved with the College, they have a higher chance of coming back each semester to complete,” said Amanda DeRose, Assistant Director of Student Engagement at Carroll. “Through this involvement, they can see firsthand the benefit their future degree has on their life and others.”

By partaking in service-learning at these sites whether it is for a day or an entire semester, students learn more about the support system in the county or how they can continue to serve in this role in the future

Amanda DeRose Quote Image Carroll Community College
Amanda DeRose Assistant Director of Student Engagement

The Multiple Benefits of Service-Learning

At its core, service-learning bridges the gap between theory and practice, offering students the opportunity to apply classroom concepts in external settings. By integrating community service with academic study, it fosters a meaningful connection between classroom learning and real-life application, as well as promotes leadership development in its volunteers.

The benefits of service-learning extend beyond academic achievement, contributing to personal growth. Through meaningful service experiences, students discover their strengths, passions and values. They develop essential life skills such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving. Moreover, service-learning encourages self-reflection, challenging students to confront their biases, expand their perspectives and develop a deeper understanding of themselves and others.

Service-learning cultivates a sense of civic responsibility and social awareness among students. By engaging with community members who are ethnically, racially and socioeconomically different from them and addressing their pressing issues, students develop empathy, compassion and a heightened awareness of community issues.

Making Career & Community Connections

In today’s competitive job market, employers increasingly value candidates with practical experience and a commitment to social responsibility. Service-learning provides students with a distinct advantage by equipping them with valuable skills and experiences that enhance their employability. Whether through internships, research projects or community partnerships, students gain relevant experience, build professional networks and distinguish themselves as leaders in their fields.

Service learning can provide students with relevant work-related experience in such industries as:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Healthcare
  • Human Services
  • Science & Technology
  • Media
  • Arts & Culture

Service-learning also inspires a lifelong commitment to service and social responsibility. By instilling a sense of purpose and agency, this experiential learning empowers students to become lifelong advocates for positive change. Whether through volunteerism, activism or philanthropy, graduates carry forward the lessons and values cultivated through service-learning, enriching their communities and shaping a more kind and caring society.

Service-Learning Serves Everyone

Carroll offers many service-learning opportunities, including Red Cross blood drives, student club service projects, and volunteering to help at large-scale fundraising events at Carroll like Family Fun Fest and the Starry Night Gala. Some projects afford students the chance to learn more about their major, such as working in nature as part of their Science courses or mentoring young children using skills gained from their Education courses.

An Alternative Spring Break student helps with community service.

Each year, Carroll’s Office of Student Engagement plans an Alternative Spring Break, a week-long schedule of events over the College’s Spring Break where Carroll students can volunteer to help at different local organizations. The service projects and community partners vary each day and are intended to provide information about local human service organizations and increase awareness of such community issues as disabilities, environmental stewardship, and food and housing insecurity. Previous participating organizations included the Cold Weather Shelter, Piney Run Nature Center and Habitat for Humanity.

“By partaking in service-learning at these sites whether it is for a day or an entire semester,” explained  Amanda DeRose, “students learn more about the support system in the county or how they can continue to serve in this role in the future. It is always wonderful when students complete more than required because they have such a positive experience.”

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Service-learning as part of a program’s coursework offers invaluable real-world experiences for students.

Students in the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program, for example, provide 15 hours of volunteer service at a community partner of their choice. Recently, three Carroll PTA students worked with Target Community & Educational Services in Westminster, MD to complete an assessment of their facilities, then developed a binder of adaptive exercises that in-house coordinators could utilize to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities residing at Target locations. “After the Spring semester ended, the students were asked to return to Target Services in July to provide a demonstration of exercise techniques to graduates of McDaniel College’s Human Services Management program who serve as live-in house managers,” shared Sarah Licharowicz, Associate Professor of Carroll’s PTA program. Their project would go on to win the 2024 Laurence J. Adams Community Service Award at the Target Community and Educational Services Annual Spring Gala.

Carole Williamson, Professor of Education, also champions the benefits of service-learning. The Education degree program has “a partnership with family-services provider Head Start for our Introduction to Early Childhood class, where students complete 12 hours or more of service during the course of the semester and write a reflection on their experience,” Williamson said. In the Child Growth and Development course, students complete a Call to Action Project of their choosing, where they engage the community by getting their assistance with some part of the students’ project (e.g., helping with a donation collection).

“Teachers have to be strongly invested in their communities and service is such a good model for students/children to see,” Williamson said.

Service-learning stands as a transformative educational approach that enriches the college experience and prepares students for a lifetime of leadership and service. As colleges continue to embrace service-learning as a cornerstone of education, they empower students to unlock their full potential and become catalysts for a better world.

Make a Difference!

Contact Amanda DeRose at about current service-learning opportunities.