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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Samford students help, earn credit with servicecomment (0)

January 4, 2001


Every Tuesday afternoon Cheryl Minozzi and Nateka Jackson leave the campus of Samford University and head for the old South Avondale Baptist Church in Birmingham. They brace themselves as they enter the playground area outside the church, knowing the children will soon be climbing all over them. They are working with the M-Power Ministry’s after-school program which provides tutoring for children from nearby Gibson Elementary School.
   
Cheryl and Nateka are among hundreds of students who participated in a new service learning project through Samford’s core curriculum program. Each student enrolled in Communication Arts 101 was required to complete a service project that became the basis for one of the essays they wrote for the course. Students also gave speeches about their experiences at the service agency.
   
“Our goal in the program is not just to encourage service, but to promote service learning,” noted David Chapman, Samford English professor and director of the core curriculum program. “Research shows that students who participate in service learning programs improve their academic performance as well as developing a greater commitment to public service.”
    
The M-Power Ministry is one of dozens of Birmingham community partners in Samford’s service learning effort. Each faculty member teaching the course cooperated with a community partner to set up the service learning experience. Students worked in homeless shelters, hospitals, retirement homes, rehabilitation centers and environmental agencies.
    
Grace McGraw, who directs the after-school program at M-Power, recognizes that student volunteers have an important role to play in the ministry. “The children attach themselves to the college students so quickly and the Samford students are wonderful role models for the children.”
   
“In our class,” Chapman explained, “we did extensive research on issues such as inner city schools, race relationships, poverty and urban housing.”
   
One of the goals of the service learning program is to promote a lifetime of service. Many of the students have volunteered for community service organizations after their course requirements were completed.
   
Jackson wrote about the experience in her essay.
   
The student shared how she wanted “to witness the ongoing change in the lives of these young people as M-Power continues to play a lasting role in their growth and development. Not only do I want to witness it, but I want to be a part of it.” (SU)
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