Service Learning Community offers experiences beyond the classroom

Those students who think learning stops when they leave the classroom can be taught a thing or two from a group of sophomores. In fact, 40 sophomores residing in Alumni Hall would argue that learning doesn’t stop after class is over.

The Sophomore Service Learning Community is a program at Villanova that lets sophomores learn, live and do service together. The mission statement says the program “brings students together in a multidimensional living and learning experience, to expand their understanding of social justice and to inspire the community.” The program requires the students to reside in the same dorm, take the required courses of Ethical Traditions and Contemporary Life and Theology of Social Justice and also to attend a weekly tutoring project at J. Cooke Middle School in Northeast Philadelphia’s Logan section. Another aspect of the program, which is similar to that of the Villanova Experience, is the “fourth hour” led by 13 juniors and seniors in a form of reflection.

“We believe the combination of dorm life and classroom experience provides a greater opportunity for students to get to know each other and the material inside and out of class,” Carmen Ruiz-Castaneda, one of three senior co-chairs of the program, said.

Now in its fourth year, the Service Learning Community has already seen great change. Looking to expand the activity’s programs and sustain student commitment, the SLC works with the Honors Program, Student Life, Campus Ministry and Office of Mission Effectiveness to include many different activities and put some variety into the full year’s program. Some of the additions are getting more faculty speakers to talk to the students, as well as a panel presentation on “Sharing a Passion for Education.”

“I did enjoy my experience as a sophomore, but always thought that improvements could be made to enhance the SLC and its impact on campus,” Kate Hayes, SLC co-chair said.

Tim Hoffman, the third SLC co-chair,said, “Because it is of critical importance to the long-term success of the SLC to have the faith and support of the University’s many valued resources, one of our primary goals has been to build the credibility of this year’s program.”

As students are looking for housing for next year, they should keep their ears and eyes open about learning community opportunities here on campus. The people involved in the SLC this year will be the first to commend the programs. They have learned first-hand that their education doesn’t end as they walk out of the classroom.