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Service-Learning EXPO

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Honors Outreach and Place and Opportunity Tours Day

Photo by Hanna Suh

NU Service Day

Interview with Dr. Gail Begley

Service-Learning Co-op Dan McKenna got a chance to sit down with Dr. Gail Begley, to talk to her about her involvement in the Service-Learning Program.   Dr. Begley is the Associate Academic Specialist and Director of the University Pre-Health Program.  She is also a founding member and co-chair of the Service-Learning Advisory Board, and has been utilizing Service-Learning in her classes at Northeastern for years.  A few highlights of her interview are below:

What do you think of the Service-Learning Teaching Assistants?

“I think the Service-Learning Teaching Assistants are the greatest thing ever, at least in the education world.  No really, it’s amazing, and I don’t know what I would do without the Teaching Assistants.  It’s a fantastic program… the TAs are a Godsend.”

So the cost benefit of working with the program is definitely worth it in your eyes?

“Do I spend time meeting with the TAs before the semester and during the semester? Of course.  But that’s a very small investment compared to all the work that they do in terms of keeping in touch with all the partners, communicating with the students, making sure that the students know what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Do you have any advice for faculty who are thinking about starting to use service-learning?

“My advice is just to get involved immediately with the Service-Learning Program in the Center of Community Service.  There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.  There are many people with lots of experience with doing this, lots of different ways to do it. It's really hard if you try to do it yourself; it’s not so hard if you have people that can help you, and they’re there. That’s the best advice I can give, just get connected with other people who are doing it.”

Would you say that it was a radical re-write of your syllabus when you started using service-learning?

“It really wasn’t a radical re-write.  In the same way that you would use some other ongoing project, an ongoing resource that students are referring to, any time you add something like that, yes, obviously you’re modifying your syllabus: you have to look at what assignments are going to be different.  But in terms of the content, no, the whole idea of the service-learning is to reinforce the content.   The idea is not to change the content; it’s to reinforce the content at the same time you’re developing professional skills.  The content is still there, it’s just being reinforced in different ways.”
Full interview on SoundCloud:


First-Year Service-Learning student Ben DeUrso shares his take on Service-Learning

Northeastern seemed like the right place for me when I was applying for colleges. My name is Ben DeUrso and I am in the Program for Undeclared Students, which is only fitting since I wrote my college essay about not knowing who I am. The main attracting factor about Northeastern, for me, was the experiential learning aspect of the curriculum, specifically co-op. However, co-op doesn’t start until after freshman year. Until then, it’s just a traditional classroom setting school—or so I thought. Fortunately, I was put into a first year seminar for undeclared students, FSEM 1000, as well as Education in the Community, two courses with service-learning components.

Essentially, service-learning is a traditional class with an aspect of experiential learning. The students go and volunteer at a local non-profit community organization and work with the people of Boston. There are an abundance of organizations that are open to students, and each student is allowed to choose where they want to serve. I decided to work at 826 Boston, an organization that focuses on tutoring kids and harvesting creativity through reading, writing, grammar, math and critical thinking skills. The volunteers, like me, do afterschool tutoring. However, they also write books with the children, and participate in other highly creative workshops and projects. So far, I have only done one session of after school tutoring. The kids are incredibly sweet, and the tutors are a team that works together.

I chose 826 because it catered to both my needs and my love of creativity. It has helped me realize that education is a career path that is definitely open to me, because I have an affinity for working with children. I believe this is necessary piece of education, especially for an undeclared student: service-learning helps teach you multiple skills at once. It has been an awesome experience so far, and I can’t wait to get back to working with the kids.