Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Student Spotlight: Sara Gibbs

Examples are really important. When teaching an abstract concept, it's important to give examples. Whenever I'm starting a new project of any kind, I look around for examples and structures for me to build upon or adapt. Whenever I'm writing an article, I include examples to ground the main ideas.

I think it's also really important for students to see examples of other successful students. So I like to use this blog to highlight the successes of former Spanish community-based learning students.

Talk about successful: Sara Gibbs was an absolute stand-out student. She took both "Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" with me; she aced both courses. She was a real leader in her team project, bringing the Girl Scouts on as a community partner and building a sustainability plan for that partnership. She worked in the Office of Volunteer Programs and helped put on their annual conference. She studied abroad in Ecuador and volunteered there. She had an internship her senior year with the Chancellor's office. She saw opportunities everywhere and jumped on them.

So I was excited to get this update from Sara last week:

"I ended up coming to the University of Michigan this year to pursue a Masters in Higher Education, and I'm interning in the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning (the place that publishes the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, if you're familiar with that). They run some amazing curricular and co-curricular service-learning programs, and I've learned so much about service-learning since coming here. I really love the work that I´m doing - I'm working more with students and co-curricular initiatives as opposed to curricular programs, but there's a large amount of education and reflection incorporated into these programs as well.

"It turns out that my project for the Vice Chancellor that I spoke with you about several times last year also came to fruition. Some students took over the leadership of the service council that we started, have renamed it I-Serve, and are really working to get more recognition for the service work happening on campus. Thanks for all your advice and input into that project last year. Hopefully their work will somehow connect with the work that you're doing to push forward service-learning on campus.
In a previous message Sara wrote about the value of taking Spanish community-based learning (CBL) courses:
"If I hadn't taken your classes and talked with you about the work you're doing with Community Based Learning, I don't think I would have even understood what it was, much less how powerful of a learning experience it can be for students…"
Sara was such an outstanding student that LAS did a story on her last year. Click here to see more about Sara and to learn from her example.

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