Students use Service Learning Opportunities to Serve their Interests

By Bradley Hills and Ben Griffin

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While some seniors do service hours to benefit their community, others use the experience as a  way of gaining knowledge and practical experience within a field of interest or as a way to practice their hobby while simultaneously benefiting the community.

Take for example Elizabeth Palumbo, Div. 961, who got service hours wayfinding at Illinois Masonic Hospital.

A wayfinder assists people in wheelchairs and brings them to different clinics at a hospital, according to Palumbo.

While this is not hands-on medical work, Palumbo is getting experience in the field of medicine, which she wishes to pursue in the future.

“I looked for specifically medical internships, volunteer work, and anything like that because that’s what I want to go into,” Palumbo said.

Also, through wayfinding, she has found a way into a new role with greater responsibilities.

“I’m going to be working with the doctors in the behavioral health clinic and helping them set up patients in their rooms,” Palumbo said. “I get to know them and then help set up their beds as well as doing a lot of secretary work, answering phone calls, and setting up appointments.”

But while Palumbo is  soaking in this career opportunity, she is also trying her best to have a positive impact on the community.

“For me, it was all about getting to know patients and meeting families and building up the empathy and sympathy for patients and trying to understand what they are going through,” she said.

Malik Kelly, Div. 952, is another senior who completed an interesting task to achieve service hours.

Kelly worked for the JB Pritzker Governor Campaign over the summer. Kelly’s job was to go to Republican or neutral neighborhoods and give people information about the JB Pritzker campaign by knocking on doors.

Kelly would ask if they were undecided or voting for a candidate, and then attempt to sway their opinion by talking about Pritzker’s policies and agenda.

Kelly said that the experience helped make him more aware about politics and the political system that we have.

“It helped me get a better understanding of what it takes to run a campaign, such as how many people you need behind the campaign to be successful,” Kelly said.

Often times people would either ignore him and not answer the door or decline to have a conversation. “Sometimes we would be able to have a conversation with people where we would explain our views,” Kelly said.

According to Kelly, he was also able to gain experience in political discourse, which he believes will be a very useful tool for his future career.

Kelly said that for younger students that want to get involved in politics, they should find causes and issues that they care about and get people together to help draw attention to them if they want to create change.

Mia Williams, Div. 973, also found value in doing things that she is passionate about within a service learning opportunity.

I really have a passion for inspiring and positively affecting people,” Williams said. “I performed violin at retirement homes in the Chicago area and surrounding suburbs.”

Williams, who has been playing violin for over fourteen years, found that she could create a positive impact in her community just by doing something that she found to be fairly easy.

“You might not even realize how the two minutes that you are performing you are actually affecting people,” Williams said. “It seems like such a minute act, but the feedback is so positive, that it’s completely worth it. Community service can inspire people more than you would think.