Sunday, June 23, 2013

Student Spotlight: Katherine Shultz

Katherine Shultz did her Spanish CSL work at Garden Hills Elementary School.
It is not infrequent that our Spanish students are also pre-med. It's a good combination. It brings together the sciences and the humanities. It hones students' transcultural compentence--something that all medical school programs are interested in. And it gives you another language in which to speak to your patients.
  • Learned about and how to communicate/interact with a diverse group of people in the community. Multicultural competency is important as all demographic need medical care.
  • Enhanced problem solving skills. To effectively teach, I had to come up with fun and engaging activities. When an activity didn't work successfully, I had to modify or come up with an alternative in order help the students learn.
  •  Leadership/ responsibility. I learned how to lead a group of 5-6 students (with short attention spans) in sessions on topics such as the alphabet, writing their names, and basic words in English. I also was in charge of supervising individual and group reading for 20 min per day. This allowed the teacher to work on grading or student progress reports. 
  • The ability to reflect and learn from experiences. Writing about my experience at Garden Hills during the exercises at the beginning of class and in essays taught me to think about the significance of volunteering and learn about myself in the process. The reflections throughout class taught me to think critically about my work, reflect about my writing process and identify areas I was strong in and areas in which I struggled."

by Ann Abbott

Spanish community service learing (CSL) gives pre-med students another advantage: real-world experience engaging with Spanish-speakers to solve problems and build relationships.

That is what Katherine Shultz did, and I it is, I hope, something that will set her apart in her med school applications.

If you are studying Spanish and planning to apply to medical school, take notice of how Katherine thoughtfully connects her Spanish CSL experiences with the qualities that medical schools look for.

Katherine's own words:

"Community Service Learning (CSL) Information
"I was at Garden Hills Elementary School in a kindergarten bilingual classroom. My main task was to help with reading and writing particularly with the four students who were struggling the most in order to give them more one on one time. It was extremely rewarding to see them progress over the course of the semester working with them twice a week. Also, working with Spanish speaking kindergarteners made me realize that even if I don’t conjugate verbs correctly or use correct grammar that I can still communicate and teach effectively (Improved my confidence).

"Other Information
What did you learn from the course and/or your CSL work that is applicable to the program or job to which you are applying?
Finally, Katherine also used her Spanish CSL experiences to demonstrate her creativity (below). I particularly want to point how how, at the very end, she credits the creativity of the teachers as well, showing that she is respectful, aware of others' talents and is part of a community of creative educators. That shows real maturity!

"I would say I have used my creativity the most while volunteering in a Spanish bilingual kindergarten classroom with 27 Spanish-speaking students.

"Attempting to teach 5-year old children that only speak Spanish can be quite a challenge when you are not fluent in the language. It takes quite a bit of creativity with words and with activities to get meanings and concepts across. Vocabulary was often a challenge for me especially when coupled with presenting concepts in a foreign language. It was often necessary for me to change the wording of an idea I had in English in order to be able to communicate. This was necessary for example when attempting to explain how to use the alphabet to sound out a word. By rewording and explaining, I was able to get my original point across to the group of students I worked with.

"While volunteering in this classroom, I saw major improvements in the student’s reading capabilities. I would use techniques from the teacher that they were responding well to as well as trying new activities based on my own past in Spanish course work to improve areas in which they were not progressing. I believe that my presence and interaction with the students gave more individualized instruction and the extra personal attention that they needed to learn in such a large classroom setting. My creative approach toward activities really helped to make a difference in some of the children’s progressions.

"Through my actions, I was able to bring about learning in these children. This is an example of my definition of creativity. I was able to overcome challenges in speaking as well as was able to come up with effective lessons to incorporate concepts in an easy and fun way to learn due to being creative. It is because of creativity from myself as well as from all teachers that these students are able to learn in an effective, stimulating and enjoyable environment."

What can you use from Katherine's examples to help you build solid, important connections between your Spanish CSL experiences and your plans for medical school?

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