As a St. Catherine University transfer and commuter student, I can honestly say there was a time when I did not feel engaged in the Katie experience. During my transition time as a student, the transition took me an entire semester until I immersed myself in community involvement on campus. With the incorporation of Community Engaged Learning, CEL, courses at St. Kate’s, my education and time have been filled with a newfound life as a student. I have taken a few classes at St. Kate’s that involve the Community Work and Learning offices. Through service-learning I became more than a student who has a commute to campus, I developed that Katie pride in being a member of the St. Kate’s community.
One of my favorite classes was Interpersonal Communication. The class had an opportunity to visit Carondelet Village to have conversations with volunteer Carondelet residents, called Carondelet conversations. As someone who would travel from my house to class, I would drive through Gate 4 every day and never wondered what that building was that I would pass. Prior to meeting with my Carondelet partner, I was stubborn because I distanced myself from St. Kate’s. I did not involve myself in activities on campus because I thought of myself just traveling to school just for an education.
With CEL, it became more than a way to practice communication skills in real-world settings. During the meeting times with my Carondelet partner, I began to develop a relationship with my conversation partner. My partner was one of the famous sisters on campus, Sister Jane McDonald. Through my experience with the Carondelet conversations, I began to self-disclose and became an active listener. Sister McDonald welcomed me into the community and made me feel like I belonged on campus.
Having the ability to speak and develop relationships with an influential person in the Katie community in a real-world setting brought so much value to being a student. St. Kate’s gave me the opportunity to be engaged by having fun while still doing coursework. CEL heightened learning by stepping outside the classroom and letting me use my communication skills in a new way.
Athena Garcia, Communication Studies