The integration of traditional classroom instruction of theory with the opportunity for experiential service learning, according to faculty and students alike, has changed the way that teaching and learning occur at Alma College.
Through academic service learning courses, Alma College students serve the community in a variety of ways.
Students in creative writing classes teach poetry to elderly residents and to prison inmates. Education students design curricula for community programs. Kinesiology students administer aerobic exercise and strength training programs to senior citizens. Sociology students provide support services to women and their children.
Students in religious studies classes provide volunteer help to Community Café, Habitat for Humanity projects, and community environmental organizations. Business students spend 4 to 5 hours per week providing assistance with business practices to nonprofit agencies. Spanish students teach host Spanish Story Hour at the local library.
Chemistry students perform environmental assessments. Public affairs students work on advocacy projects. Students of all disciplines volunteer to serve as big brothers or big sisters, supervise after-school programs, and provide mentoring.
Providing service locally, globally
Within Michigan, service experiences have included work in job training programs in the Detroit metropolitan area, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw; in schools; in migrant and bilingual literacy programs throughout rural Michigan; and with fitness and wellness programs, public forums, and county court systems in surrounding areas.
Students have also worked in tutoring projects, environmental research, health monitoring, public policy implementation, economic development, job training, and housing rehabilitation.
They have gained experience in schools, hospices, prisons, and nursing homes and have assisted with child immunization programs, Habitat for Humanity and river clean-up programs.
For many years, students have also participated in service experiences in countries such as Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico and Poland.
Turn Passion into Profession
Students with service learning experience enter a variety of graduate programs and find careers related to service experiences. Many follow up their Alma service with active lives as volunteers in the communities where they live after graduation. Service learning alumni have pursued such graduate programs as public policy at the University of Chicago, environmental law at Vermont Law School, and medicine at Michigan State University. Students with service learning experience teach around the country, direct public environmental agencies, and provide health services in understaffed rural and urban areas through such National Service Programs as AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps*VISTA, and Teach for America.