September Membership Spotlight – Dominican University
Not only was Natalie Sanchez a Tyson Foods Summer Community Intern at the Erie Neighborhood House, and a 2018 Civic Newman Fellow, but she also is an intern for Civic Learning at Dominican University. We met with her last week to learn about her position and civic learning at Dominican.
As an intern in the Civic Learning Office Natalie works with students to find community organizations that fulfill their community based learning class requirements. Dominican offers students anywhere between ten to twenty five community based learning courses a semester. It is Natalie’s job to make sure students in these courses have the correct paper work, and she helps them schedule their time at community organizations.
Natalie offers an important insight, being a student in the office. She understands where students are coming from when they express stress trying to schedule time for CBL courses. She has also seen first hand all that students get out of these courses because she has taken them herself. This gives her a unique ability to address issues that students have. She also uses her role to share how important and rewarding the courses have been to her and could be to other students.
Community based learning courses vary at Dominican, but all are similar in the way that students connect what they are learning in class to the work of a community organization that they serve. Natalie, a Senior Sociology major, described a CBL course she took as Sophomore.
The focus of this course was gender and violence. Through the course she volunteered at St. Joseph Services where she tutored and helped facilitate gym and play times. Natalie said she observed many concepts that she learned in class, such as toxic masculinity, the achievement gap, and more.
Through these community based learning courses not only do students get a chance to learn about concepts in a hands on way, but organizations also receive smart and committed volunteers.
In the Civic Learning office and on their web page, professors can find resources to develop community based learning courses. Professors can organize their class however fits with them and the course work. Natalie said that most CBL courses require that students finish a predetermined number of hours serving at a community organization, and at the end of the course the students either make a presentation or write an essay pertaining to the course’s subject matter and its connection to their service work or organization.
Natalie says that the Civic Learning office is looking to broaden and expand what civic learning looks like at Dominican University. In the next coming months they are excited about provided voter workshops, and voter registration tabling.
When asked how community based learning aligns with Dominican’s mission, Natalie stated this, “Dominican states in their mission that they prepare students to ‘pursue truth, to give compassionate service and to participate in the creation of a more just and humane world.’ I think Civic Learning accomplishes exactly that through our Community Based Learning courses. Students go out into the community to physically witness and experience the truth of what they learn in their class. They give compassionate service to the populations they are working with in the community organizations. They participate in the creation of a more just and humane world by working to make it better through education and experience.”