Dickinson honored for community service; MSL volunteers explain why
by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Twenty-five students participated in the Montgomery Service Leaders program this year. Here are a few. Front row (from left): Madeline Chandler ’16, Elizabeth Lanigan ’16, Jamie Phillips ’16, Kendall Beals ’13 (MSL leadership team) and Rachel Jordan ‘13 (MSL leadership team). Back row (from left): Nicole Russo ’14, Mark Shaffer ’16, Greg Horne ’16 and Caio Santos Rodrigues ’16.
Last year, students logged more than 39,000 hours of service through Dickinson's four community-service programs: CommServe,
a network of student groups that build and maintain community partnerships; Day
of Service, which brings together students, professors and administrators for one day of community work; Service
trips to communities in need in the U.S. and abroad; and Montgomery
Service Leaders (MSL), a 3-year program that melds long-term community-service and academics for a more intensive and immersive volunteer experience.
And now, their efforts are attracting notice at the national level.
Dickinson was recently named to the 2012 President’s Higher
Education Community Service Honor Roll, a national initiative that pays tribute to colleges and universities that demonstrate strong, meaningful
commitment to the communities they serve. This is the fourth consecutive year Dickinson has been named to that list.
This week, students in the MSL program held an information session to share some of the many ways they make a difference in the local community, and what drives them to give back.
Environmental-studies major Jamie Phillips ’16 volunteers in the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy (CPC) office and administers the organization’s Facebook page. “It's been amazing, because I've had a lot of ideas, some of them have already [been implemented]," says Phillips, who plans to revamp the CPC's Web site next year. "Because the staff is so small, it gives me an opportunity to really make a difference."
Caio Santos Rodriguez ’16, a psychology major and international student from Brazil, tutored children at the YWCA during his first year on campus. Next semester, he’ll add a child-development course to his class schedule. "I can't wait to see how I can use what I learn in class," he says.
ROTC member Greg Horne ’16 began his career at Dickinson as an environmental-science major. He signed up to volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) at the beginning of his first semester and attended his first court hearing in October. By December, had changed his major to law & policy. “As I became familiar with the details [of the cases], I got a better understanding of the need for child advocacy, and I knew that this was what I wanted to do,” he says. “That changed my career path. It changed my life.”
That sentiment strikes a chord with biology major Kendall Beals '13, one of five members of the 2012-13 MSL leadership team. "We're a service-oriented campus; we care about civic issues. And as you progress through the program you become even more committed and invested," says Beals, whose capstone project on early environmental education allowed her to work with students and teachers in the Harrisburg School District.
“Everyone comes away from this experience with different skills and interests, but they all have leadership experience, and they have an understanding that they are part of this larger community," she continues. "You take that with you wherever you go."
about service at Dickinson in
the words of student volunteers.
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