Students connect with community

At the Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 24, professors Cassie Morton and Francisco Moreno, alongside students, presented City College’s Service Learning Program to a positive reception.

City College’s official mission statement entails connecting the college and the community, according to Moreno, this is exactly what service learning accomplishes.

“Students leave City with many memorized formulas, facts and theories but all of that can be more or less forgotten. Service learning, on the other hand, is something I doubt these students will ever forget …it changes lives,” he said.

Whether it be City’s students teaching kindergarteners’ to dance, tutoring high school students, helping seniors open emails or learning about biology while picking up trash from San Diego’s shores, service learning experiences generate learning from first hand experiences for both those who teach and those who learn.

“I have never been so excited to get out of bed and come to school,” Paul Kressge, a student in the program, told the board of trustees about the time he spent helping recovering drug addicts with doing mock job interviews to prepare the addicts for real life interviews.

Sony Boyd, accounting student, said she spent time doing free taxes preparation for the community during tax season. And health student, Joseph Stuart, said he volunteered 20 hours at the HIV clinic that came to campus.

“After completing service learning, many of my students, some of whom who dreaded the program, have said that they finally felt like they did something with their lives,” said Moreno, enthusiastically recounting City’s various service learning endeavors. “With service learning, everyone benefits.”

“If we don’t make a difference, there’s no purpose in our lives. Service learning makes that difference,” Moreno said.

One such difference was made when service learning students were facilitating AIDS awareness by providing free testing and handing out condoms. If not for the awareness drive, says Moreno, one student would have never known he was positive.

‘”There are just stories, after stories, after stories about service learning’s affect on both the community and students,” said Moreno. “If students do service learning once, they do it again and again.”

“The presentations provided the best example of education at its best and the obvious mentorship between faculty and students was a treasure to behold. City College is indeed a special place and it is all due to its faculty, students and staff,” said Rita M. Cepeda, director of Mesa College’s department of education.

“Last year alone, we had over 800 students do this. Can you imagine if all of City College did service learning, if all of California did it?” said Moreno. With praise from the board of trustees and a devout following of students, City’s Service Learning Program has already completed 300,000 volunteer hours.

“I wish President Obama was here to listen. This is the dream of national service coming through; I am not surprised it’s happening here at City. It is the heart of democracy that we all help each other out,” said Chancellor M. Carroll, at the board of trustees meeting.

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Students connect with community