St. Catherine University students are more than halfway through the 2017–18 academic fall semester, and many are busy participating in service-learning and community-based student employment throughout the Twin Cities.
This fall semester alone, over 1,000 students in 45 courses are enrolled in courses with a service-learning component. This community engagement meets their course objectives and goals, and deepens their academic understanding by having them work with and learn from a nonprofit partner.
St. Kate’s Center for Community Work and Learning (CWL) also has over 100 student employees who are positively impacting our campus community and the broader community:
“St. Kate’s students are positively impacting the broader community while also deepening their student experience at this University,” said D’Ann Urbaniak Lesch, CWL director. “Our work with the broader community speaks to St. Kate’s values and mission. We are thankful for the tireless work of our community partners because their efforts allow our students to dig deeper into social justice issues while also making a difference in the Twin Cities.”
CWL has been pairing up students and nonprofits since its beginning in 2000. Each academic year, the center’s staff work closely with over 125 organizations. The result: First-year to senior students, as well as students in St. Kate’s associate and graduate programs, get opportunities off-campus to broaden their perspective and hone their professional skills.
“I love being able to help students understand English and see them gain confidence in expressing themselves,” said Sarah Sullivan ’17, an English/Teaching English as a Second Language major who is working at Neighborhood House thanks to a CWL Career Ready internship. “I want to be a teacher, so this direct classroom experience is helping me gain that experience.”
Madeline Noland ’21 feels the same way. Her time as an America Reads tutor is helping her goal of being a physical therapist for children — by allowing her to “have more interactions and to learn how to work with kids,” she confirmed.
So, what do the staff at these nonprofits think of their St. Kate’s partnership?
“The tutoring and mentoring provided by the incredible America Reads tutors from St. Kate’s at Rice Street Library made a huge impact in the community by successfully providing one-on-one tutoring sessions to several hundreds of learners of all ages,” said Wendy Neuer, volunteer coordinator for St. Paul Public Library.
Neuer was also impressed by the professionalism of the St. Kate’s tutoring team, when they were moved, or relocated, to the remodeled Rondo Community Library about 2.5 miles away. There, the St. Kate’s students mentored over 32 students a week in Grades 1–5 to boost their literacy skills — and they easily helped “this large number of students right from the beginning of the school year,” recalled Neuer. “A big shout out to the awesome team of St. Kate’s America Reads tutors!”
Salma Hussein, a staff member at G.I.R.L.S. (Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports), an exercise program for Muslim girls, has nothing but positive feedback when she works with both service-learning groups and a Career Ready intern from the University. She said, “They bring a wealth of knowledge and expose our students to college and career.” In fact, a number of program participants have already expressed an interest in pursuing a career in nursing — Hussein typically works with students in St. Kate’s RN-BS Degree Completion program.
“St. Kate’ students have been warm and welcoming,” she added. “Our program is built on relationships and a sense of community; they have come in and formed authentic connections with program participants. We would love to continue our existing partnership.”
And Naila Khan ’18, who is currently serving as Hussein’s intern, also wants the collaboration to continue. Khan, a public health major at St. Kate’s, said it’s a win-win for all involved.
“…the girls in this program because they are so passionate about sports. I can tell how important it is for them for them to have this opportunity to pursue it,” she said. “Plus, I get to work with data collection and analysis… [and learn directly from] community health workers and social workers. This program fits perfectly with what I want to do in my future.”