Real-World Experience with Meaning

GateWay Community College Honors students are spending this semester connecting their classroom to community.
 
Students from Andy Lenartz’s Honors Leadership Development class are spending time with fifth and sixth grade students from Crockett Elementary School to engage students in educational planning and activities. At the same time, the projects are helping GateWay students develop their own leadership qualities.
 
Students visit Crockett in pairs for only half an hour, but they learn a lot from each other in this short time. Students begin with the story of their own path to college, and then carry out a leadership project they designed in Lenartz’s class.
 
Jess Espinoza and Maria Robledo shared their stories, and then helped students write a letter to their future selves about their goals and dreams.
 
“It was really amazing to see how the students opened up to you,” said Espinoza.  One student told Espinoza she wanted to go to college but didn’t know how to pay for it. Espinoza told her how she was able to get a scholarship for being the first one in her family to go to college. “Knowing that you changed a life in just a short amount of time is really rewarding,” Espinoza said.
 
 “This course is focused on leadership, and this helps our students understand how leadership can be demonstrated through service,” said Lenartz, a psychology professor and Honors faculty advisor. “I have been amazed with the effort and time our students have put into this project. It has been great to establish this synergy with our community, taking a massive city of a million people and making it a small town based on connecting with our neighbors.”  
 
“Ideally, service learning creates meaningful connections between curriculum and real world experiences,” said Jessica Brosilo, coordinator of Career Services and Service Learning. “We want to be sure our students see relevance in their studies and empower them to use what they’re learning now to make the world just a little bit better.”
 
“Most of the time, students love the opportunity to give back to their communities, particularly when they have the chance to use new knowledge for the first time,” said Brosilo. “They get the chance to see their skills in action, and that’s a powerful thing. It can be life changing for students and our community partners.”
 
Robledo, an undecided major at GateWay, had the following words of advice for the Crockett students, “I told them not to give up, because if you give up, you’re not going to succeed. You’re the only person that can stop yourself. Don’t let the negative comments get to you because you’re stronger than that.”
 
On April 1, students can get a glimpse of Service Learning during the Maricopa Community Colleges district-wide day of service. GateWay Community College students will join 140 Maricopa Community College students to pack food boxes for children overseas at Feed My Starving Children.
 
“It’s a really fun day, but also a day with a lot of meaning,” said Brosilo. For more information or to sign up, contact Jessica Brosilo in Career Services at 602-286-8152 or brosilo@gatewaycc.edu.

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