The Service Learning program is a very unique volunteer opportunity, as it gives students the chance to connect their studies with real experience. It allows for academics from the classroom to come to life in the local community through service. This exposure can help students to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts they learn in school, while also serving others. The program is available for both Rose Hill and Gabelli students, offering a variety of options depending on academic path. Throughout the semester, participants reflect on the connection between their designated course and their time spent volunteering. Participants earn a free additional course credit upon completion of 30+ hours of community service throughout the semester, reflections, and seminars.
The Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice at Fordham serves as a liaison between the school community and the communities surrounding us. They have established partnerships with several different service agencies in the local neighborhood, helping students arrange volunteer placements. For example, students studying in the education field might want to volunteer with Jumpstart. This early education organization aids students in low-income preschools with development of language and literacy skills. The program is flexible, though, as Gabelli students are also allowed to volunteer with non-profits through the Dorothy Day Center, who will help them find an appropriate site. I’m a marketing major, but I served as a Jumpstart Corps Member for a semester.
The Gabelli School also has community partners for students interested in completing a project related to a particular business course they are taking. They work with organizations that focus on various aspects of business, giving students the opportunity to maximize the experience based on their desired career path. For example, students interested in accounting are encouraged to sign up for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This is a national service that provides free tax preparation assistance for low-to-moderate income families. The volunteers work directly with clients and use the IRS software to prepare tax returns. There are also organizations that help foster general business-relevant skills for students who may still be undeclared.
My personal experience was with the Fordham Road Business Improvement District (BID), which focuses on marketing and management. This non-profit organization works to promote the growth of the local business community. Volunteering with the BID taught me a lot more about promotion and further developed my communication skills. During the fall semester, I helped enroll businesses in their Holiday Shopping Discount Program as well as assisted with the preparation and implementation of their annual charity event. For the spring semester, I helped to promote events such as Fordham Fever Fridays, movie nights, and sidewalk sales. No matter where you choose to volunteer, the Service Learning program is a great way to gain hands-on experience while helping the local community.