September 26, 2013

Emmanuel Students Develop Personally and Professionally Through Summer Service Fellowships

The final fellowship dinner

Since the age of 16, Kirsten King '14 has spent her summers working at a variety of jobs, from scooping ice cream to driving a delivery truck. During the summer of 2012, she had the opportunity to teach English to inner-city third, fourth and fifth graders. The experience challenged, tested and taught her something every single day. While teaching was not a career she had plans to pursue, she hoped to continue spending her summers doing meaningful work.

King was one of three Emmanuel students selected for a 2013 St. Julie Billiart Summer Community Service Fellowship. Through this service opportunity, students are paired with an organization affiliated with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SND) from the beginning of June through early August. Fellowship recipients receive a $1,500 stipend, on-campus housing, a T pass and tickets to cover some of their meals in the College's Dining Hall.

King, an English communication major, was placed as a marketing and development intern at the Notre Dame Education Center (NDEC), and was responsible for handling social media, designing flyers and newsletters for donors, and getting the word out about the work NDEC was doing. A few weeks before the end of her fellowship, the executive director of NDEC asked to stay on as the marketing and development assistant during the school year.

"I was shocked, considering I had been responsible for reviewing applications for this position, and knew most applicants held at least a Bachelor's degree, as well as years of experience in the field," she said. "I examined my course-load as well as my extra-curricular activities and made the decision to accept the position."

Samantha Bissell '15 and Denisse Huezo-Rosales '14 also received St. Julie Billiart Fellowships, volunteering at Julie's Family Learning Program and Notre Dame Montessori Pre-School, respectively. Bissell worked with the adult education program at Julie's, planning cultural immersion outings for Julie's "students," young, low-income mothers, to places such as the Arnold Arboretum, the Commonwealth Museum and the Freedom Trail.

"We would take 'Tuesday Trips' to these places and explore them together in order to empower the mothers to feel confident in using the resources so that they could share all that they learned with their children," Bissell said. "Together, we learned so much about what is available for free in Boston."

Bissell also spent time in the kitchen, assisting with food preparation for the students and staff and in the office, making flyers for weekly events and assisting with lessons in the technology classroom.

Huezo-Rosales served as the arts and crafts coordinator for Notre Dame Montessori Pre-school's summer program. The art therapy major planned the weekly curriculum of art projects for three to 10 year olds, focusing her lessons on the summer program's theme of biblical creation stories.

"I witnessed some great outcomes from my work with the kids because they all loved the projects and always wanted to bring them home to show their parents," Huezo-Rosales said.

Huezo-Rosales wasn't the only summer service fellow to work with youth in the greater Boston area. The three recipients of the Jean Yawkey Center for Community Leadership (JYCCL) Summer Service Fellowship each volunteered at sites focused on urban youth. JYCCL fellows also received the stipend, on-campus housing, T pass and meal tickets.

Emily Shea '14 spent her time as a human services intern at the Fenway/Parker Hill branch of Action for Community Development (ABCD), Boston's largest and most comprehensive anti-poverty agency. In addition to learning their filing systems to keep information about their many, many clients in order, the sociology major was able to assist during their Immigration Day in June, helping clients fill out applications for citizenship. She also helped facilitate Child Injury Prevention Workshops and a new summer program for 13-year olds called Youth Engaged in Action (YEA), which taught the teens about money management and civic engagement, preparing them for the working world they will soon be entering.

Sociology major Julia Cardoso '14 took on the role of Summer Seedlings Program (SSP) College Coach at Sociedad Latina, an organization that empowers Latino youth to become leaders and advocates in their communities. Cardoso assisted her supervisor in preparation for the program, and then began working with teachers in the classroom and supporting students and staff throughout the day.

"I was able to witness positive outcomes of my work," Cardoso said. "I was able to help create 30 team building activities for the kids and it was nice to see them bonding while participating in the activities."

English communications major Chelsea Couture '14 split her time between two sites, the Roxbury Presbyterian Church Social Impact Center and Dearborn Middle School. She served as an intern at both locations, and was there to provide general support for anything the organizations needed, including filing and organizing data, setting up breakfast and working with the students at Dearborn's Summer School Program. At Dearborn, she was able to see them truly engaged in the fun educational activities they did together.

It was extremely enriching to get to know and work with these kids, who live a life much different than my own," she said.

Summer service fellows also had a lot of fun exploring Boston during the summer, an opportunity many students aren't able to take advantage of. They also met weekly for dinner with various members of the Emmanuel faculty and staff to share their experiences from their service sites.

"Staying in Boston for the summer gave me a whole new sense of appreciation for this beautiful city," Bissell said. "The other fellows and I went to free yoga and Zumba classes, concerts and cultural events. We always had something new to see and do. In addition to exploring Boston together, our weekly group dinners allowed us to touch base with one another and share that week's triumphs and challenges. We all grew, and supported one another in the process."

Each of the fellows agreed that living together on campus made the fellowship even more significant, and they formed unique friendships through their shared experiences.

"Living with the other fellows and working at my site was truly life-altering," King said. "I got to wake up every day excited to go to work, and go home to a group of some of the most inspiring young women I have ever had the pleasure of living with. Our group of fellows became extremely close-knit, and we would find ourselves going well over our allotted reflection time each week discussing issues of social justice, challenging each other, and sharing our thoughts on our individual experiences."

Emma Ryder '15, who served as the student coordinator for the program, organized dinners with the fellows and facilitated their reflection time, encouraging them to think about the service they were doing on a higher level.

"My experience with the program was very fulfilling," Ryder said. "I had an amazing time finding different quotes, stories, and poems to reflect on. I also, loved hearing about everyone's service experiences. We all took turns cooking dinner for the group on Wednesday nights, which created a great sense of community."

King continues to work at her site and Bissell currently serves as a tutor for some of her students at Julie's Family Learning Program. Each of the students noted that their relationship with community service has grown during their time at Emmanuel.

"Through the various community service experiences that I have had through Emmanuel, I have learned to love everything about giving back to communities any way possible," Huezo-Rosales said.

Read more about their Summer Community Service experiences below.