2011-12 Community Scholars Web Profiles
The Community Scholars program provides opportunities to engage with the local community, examine critical social issues, develop leadership skills and discern personal and vocational interests through cohort-based reflection. Participants perform two to three hours of community service each week in collaboration with schools, retirement centers, the hospital, environmental groups and other organizations. Throughout the academic year students participate in an Orientation Retreat, biweekly Dinner Conversations and one-on-on conversations with student facilitators and staff in the Piper Center. These encourage students to reflect on connections between community work, social issues and vocational goals.
Katherine Barnes ’13
Major(s): History, Russian & American Studies | Conc.(s): Women's Studies, Middle East Studies
Name of Service Site: St. Dominic's School
I have spent a few hours a week in the 6th grade homeroom, assisting with projects and spending time individually with students helping them with their skills, specifically writing. I also spent time organizing open gyms during basketball season.
Having the opportunity each meeting to open up and discuss concepts which often go undisclosed has been amazingly inspiring. I learned to critically analyze the ethics behind service & recognize my potential impact on young people, and thus act accordingly. My ability to connect with students has dramatically increased and it has been a joy to have the opportunity to get to know the kids at St. Dominic's.
Katie Crider ’13
Major: English | Concentration: Women's Studies
Name of Service Site: Laura Baker Serv. Assoc. (LBSA) & SARN/HOPE Center, Adventure Girls
I created marketing material for LBSA and helped at respite events by engaging children with developmental disabilities in games and crafts and taking photos for the LBSA website. I answered the Safeline for Rice county and St. Olaf, providing supportive listening, practical information, and resource referrals. I lead a book club for 5th grade girls focusing on books with strong female leads.
I never would have predicted how much I have enjoyed working with children with developmental disabilities. Through those experiences I have gained patience and interpersonal skills as well as confidence in my own abilities to connect with people who are different from me.
Michael Enich ’14
Major: Religion | Concentration: Biomedical Studies
Name of Service Site: Tackling Obstacles Reaching College Hopes (TORCH) Math & Science Tutor, Bethel Lutheran Sunday School Assistant
Primarily, I tutored underachieving students in Chemistry and Math at Northfield High School. Through doing this I not only concertized my own quantitative skills, but I also used and enhances my oral communication skills to convey challenging concepts.
This program has helped me recognize by desire to work with younger populations who may be left behind if otherwise not attended to. All the while I have further understood my desire to teach and my need to always be developing communication skills.
I mentor and provide friendship to a third grade boy, John, for one hour a week. I encouraged John to improve on social skills by being a role model and influence of good behavior.
I have gained a different view of a variety of subjects such as immigration and vocation. Community Scholars has given me a greater self-awareness of my own values and goals.
Moses Kulee ’14
Major(s): Psychology and Religion | Concentration(s): Family Studies
Name of Service Site(s): Northfield Retirement Community and Northfield Hospital
I read and discuss “Activities for the Soul” for the residents at Northfield Hospital and have also provided "companionship" for an elderly individual at Northfield Retirement Community. Through my interaction with the elderly I have enhanced my public speaking skills and boosted my patience, listening skills, and effective leadership skills.
As a result of participating in Community Scholar I have redefined myself. I have increased my awareness of my strengths and weaknesses. I have also enhanced my communication skills, boost my patience and feel prepared for future goals. I have learned what service work is and how it is tied with vocation along with the types of service work people do to help others.
Julie Laven ’14
Major: Spanish | Concentration: Latin American Studies
Name of Service Site(s) or Project(s): Reaching Our Goals (1st semester), Greenvale Park Elementary (2nd Semester) and tutoring 7th grade student (St. Olaf).
I mentored Latino youth from Northfield, meeting with them weekly to foster a relationship. At Greenvale Park Elementary I am leading a station in the Spanish Kindergarten class, helping the students read and learn. Furthermore I worked with a 7th grade student, helping him with math and Spanish homework in an authoritative role.
I have become more aware that regardless of where I am serving that even if I don't feel called to that work, I can still make a difference. It's all about the attitude and energy that I bring to the situation.
Mandy Sirek ’13
Major(s): Nursing, Norwegian | Concentration(s): Biomedical Studies
Name of Service Site(s) or Project(s): Northfield Pura Vida Healthy Lifestyles Program; Intern with HealthFinders Collaborative
My role with HealthFinders Collaborative allows me to spend time twice-weekly with Northfield's Latino community based in Viking Terrace, providing the education, resources, and example needed to construct and implement healthier lifestyles. Through my time as Pura Vida Instructor, I've used my Spanish communication skills and my healthcare knowledge in order to aid participants in battling chronic diseases such as Obesity, Cardiovascular Disease, and Diabetes Mellitus.
Community Scholars has done wonders for discerning my vocation as well as creating a very detailed personal awareness and comfort with my weaknesses, passions, and skills. I've found these personal experiences to be very hard to describe, but they have been of the utmost importance to my happiness and further academic and professional development.
Sonja Smerud ’14
Major(s): Political Science, Biology | Concentration: Environmental Studies
Name of Service Site(s) or Project(s): Success Center at Greenvale Elementary
I have worked with a program focused on reading and math enrichment for students with low-income families. Through this I have developed leadership skills managing chaotic groups of children, learned the importance of adaptability, and realized how important getting to know the people you are attempting to serve really is.
Community Scholars really surprised me, although I often think the best things do. The program helped me focus on two specific ideas I will continue to emanate throughout the rest of my life: community and meaningful service. Actively thinking about whether you are engaging in service in a meaningful way is really important, because it can be easy to do more harm than good if you don't understand where the people you are helping are coming from. Having a group of people all passionate about service to come back to for support and discuss topics often not easily brought up in everyday conversation makes meaningful service even easier. Learning from each of them the multiple forms in which 'service' can express itself was extremely enlightening. I now realize some of the most valuable work I do is my loyalty as a friend and the meaningful community I build immediately around me.
Michael Stralka ’14
Name of Service Site(s) or Project(s): St. Dominic School Saint Watch
I have taught card and board games to young students, showing them a new task while myself learning about how people pick up new skills.
What I take away most from Community Scholars is considering what a certain activity means to us; that is, how to distinguish between what we like or want to do and what we must do.
Haiyun Tang ’13
Major: Nursing | Concentration: Biomedical Studies
Name of Service Site: Northfield Retirement Community
I meet weekly for 2 hours with the resident at Northfield Retirement Community and communicate compassionately. I also organize regular social activities for residents and promote fun and positivity.
My experience as a community scholar has empowered me to think critically and reflectively to promote high-quality community service. It also trained me to effectively communicate and cooperate with a team of members, and I learned to understand the social issue from different perspectives. Community Scholars is a valuable program that helped me identify vocational interests and enhance self-awareness.
Athena Yang ’14
Major: Biology | Concentration: Women's studies
Name of Service Site(s): Northfield Retirement Center
I have been visiting senior residents at Northfield Retirement Center once a week. I have listened their stories and also shared mine. Through this service project I established relationships with individuals and gave them companionship and support.
Participating in Community Scholars gave me an opportunity to think about issues that I don't normally think or talk about. Through constant reflection on my service project and everyday life, I have started to realize my passion and what I want to do in the future. I began to engage in the community in several ways, actively participating in service projects, and making an effort to support and give to the community.