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Scholars in Service

Service Learning Enhances Educational Experience

by Neree Aron-Sando

When education includes a service learning component, the total experience provides students with skills they can take beyond the classroom and use throughout their lives.

One such service learning program conducted at Montgomery County Community College is the Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania program. This not only helps deserving students continue their studies by providing financial support for their educational expenses, but it also reinforces the value of community service.

This year’s 2012 Scholars in Service, Joanne Esteve, Khrystal Lennon and Lorena “Gaby” Parientes, will earn Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania grants, which will enable them to enroll as part-time AmeriCorps members and help them to fund their education expenses.

The award can be used to pay for current educational expenses at the College, to pay for future educational expenses or to repay student loans. The students’ service work includes projects on campus as well as weekly hours spent at an external site in the community.

Esteve, 28, of Pottstown, works for the Olivet Boys and Girls Club in Pottstown, where she fosters partnerships between College students and members of the club to complete volunteer projects.

“I chose the service office assistant position because it goes hand-in-hand with my major in Human Services, and it gives me an opportunity to get involved in the community,” Esteve said.

Lennon, 32, of Norristown, is assigned to work with a faculty member and class on a volunteer project. “I chose this assignment to gain better hands-on experience toward my career path,” she said. Lennon is also a Human Services major.

Parientes, a Norristown student in the Nursing program, works with the Hispanic community in her hometown. “The reason that I chose this job is because I really want to help members of the Hispanic community that live in the Norristown area,” she said. “I want my community to get more involved with the school, and I also want the parents to get involved with the education of their kids.”

The College began its participation in the AmeriCorps Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania with a single scholar in 2010, but it has a long history of civic engagement and community service. Alternative Spring Break, for example, encourages students to forego the usual weeklong vacation in favor of volunteering to work on Habitat for Humanity service projects.

“The Scholars program is in its third year at the College and supports our commitment to engagement within the local community,” said Jenna Klaus, Assistant Director of Civic and Community Engagement at Montgomery County Community College.

“Our scholars are each working on volunteer projects that will assist in building our partnerships with nonprofits in the Norristown and Pottstown areas. The student scholars will gain leadership skills through developing ongoing service projects for our campus to participate in throughout the academic year,” she said.

Civic engagement and community service won the College a place on the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The Corporation for National and Community Service’s Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

Joanne Esteves
Joanne Esteves

Khrystal Lennon
Khrystal Lennon

Lorena Parientes
Lorena Parientes

Photos by Alana J. Mauger '97 and Sandi Yanisko

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