Many college students looking forward to careers post-academia seek experience to prepare them for the “real world” of employment. A growing trend that many universities and colleges have adopted which fulfills this objective is to offer a service-learning component to the class syllabus. A pedagogical practice that integrates service and academic learning, service-learning promotes increased understanding of course content. This type of learning not only helps students to develop knowledge and skills to deal effectively with complex workplace realities but it meets authentic community and organizational needs.

During the fall 2015 semester, Regina Health Center, Rose-Mary Center and Catholic Community Connection (CCC) participated in service learning projects in partnership with John Carroll University (JCU) professors and students. Regina Health Center partnered with two Human Resource Management classes from the Boler School of Business at JCU. Rose-Mary Center worked with a Marketing and two Human Resource Management classes through the Boler School of Business as well as an Event Planning class through the Communication Department in the College of Arts and Sciences. And Catholic Community Connection partnered with a Strategic Value Co-Creation class through the Boler School of Business.

CCC has worked diligently to encourage partnerships between Cleveland’s three Catholic higher education institutions; John Carroll University, Notre Dame College and Ursuline College and its partner organizations in health, social service, senior living and burial ministries. In May 2015, CCC held a forum, Building Community: Crafting a Vision for Catholic Collaboration, to create a space for higher education professionals and partner organizations to come together and generate partnerships. JCU in particular responded enthusiastically following this forum. In coordination with their Center for Service and Social Action, opportunities for classes seeking service-learning partnerships were circulated to CCC partner organizations.

Each of the partner organizations expressed what a positive experience it was working with John Carroll professors and students. They acknowledged that the students provided quite a bit of assistance to their organizations, with input on projects and needs that would not have otherwise been priorities while keeping up with the demands of day to day work.

“They were really in tune with what we needed and ran with it. The groups provided a lot of valuable research that we just didn’t have the man power to do ourselves,”

said Shelly Orlowski, Director of Staff Services at Rose-Mary Center. Partner organizations received a fresh perspective from students that allowed them to think critically about areas such as organizational programs and marketing strategies. Students reported that they were grateful for the hands on learning experience and application of class knowledge; it also gave them great insight into the good works of our various Catholic ministries.

Service-learning opportunities are just one of the ways in which Catholic Community Connection seeks to foster intergenerational opportunities with Catholic ministries. If you are a partner organization interested in working with students through a service-learning, volunteer or internship opportunity please contact us and we would be happy to connect you with the appropriate personnel at our higher education partners.

Pictured above are John Carroll University students at their final presentation for their Strategic Value Co-Creation Class with Catholic Community Connection