• College On Tap

Outside the Campus Walls

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

By: Brianna Gadaleta



Have extra time during the week? Need a resume booster? Want to get out there and

make a difference? All of these things and more are available just outside the campus walls.

Students often fail to acknowledge, or forget about the towns, cities, or small

neighborhoods that sometimes even lie 100 feet away from the school’s library. It's just a college town to students, but to the natives of the area, it's where they grow up, have families and friends, shop at their favorite food markets, and it's home. It’s extremely important for students to respect, learn and immerse themselves in the different cultures that lay beyond the college, after all isn’t that what college is all about? And your college is there to support that process by any means, which includes options to volunteer, or even paying jobs off campus. One of the best ways my college offers these opportunities is through a course that involves what they call ‘community engagement’. Essentially it’s exactly what it sounds like, in the course they are taking, the student is required to be in the real world learning about what they are being assigned to read for homework every night.

Within my first year at college, I took two of these classes in the education field, and for

each class I went to a local middle school to read, and assist in the classroom. My classes tackled

the whole history of education, and the issues of today’s education within different types of

schools, regarding race. Not only did the class open my eyes to the massive problems that are

happening with America’s school system, the community engagement cemented this point

because I formed relationships with these students that are being failed by their school. Many

students once going through these courses, want to keep coming back to the same students, and

really feel an obligation to help change the system for them or even switch career paths after

their experiences.

I grew up in a relatively wealthy town, surrounded by white middle to high class families

with little to no crime, and a successful school system that sent great quantities of kids to the

elite colleges in the United States. I was sheltered, completely in the dark from how the rest of

the world lived, and working with the children in my college town at a local school and learning

about their lives, taught me lessons that I could never grasp in a classroom setting. They have

inspired me to take more charge in the issues covering public education, and the many internal

changes that can positively affect students of color, who have been shown to be the less

successful students. With all this being in mind, the greatest joy was just seeing their cute faces

light up whenever I came, how happy they were to read their favorite book to me. No matter how

I was feeling that day, after my session I would instantly be in a happier mood after spending

time with warm-hearted children. At the end of the day, no matter how many books I read, or

math problems I helped them through, the kids supported my growth into understanding the

barriers that certain students have to overcome, that I was fortunate enough to not face.

This was just one way that I could have gotten involved through my college, there many

other ways and paths I could have taken to get engaged in the town. Almost every day, I get sent

emails with links, to sign up and volunteer in various ways and areas, so although it may seem

like you haven’t seen these opportunities pop up, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. A great way to

find out is to seek out academic advisors, or reaching out to the career centers at your school to

see what they have to offer. There is nothing too small or too big that won’t make a difference. I

implore you to take a chance, and maybe discover something you’re really passionate about

through community engagement, and hopefully you’ll experience some growth as well.




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