SMU offers learning, service outside classroom
Published: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Learning does not just take place in the classroom, but in the community as well. SMU offers the opportunity for students to expand their education with real world experience and the chance to be impacted by, and make an impact on, their community.
This is one of the best things about SMU; between the city of Dallas, student organizations, and different university programs, students can expand their experiences by getting involved in the surrounding community.
Every student can make a difference in the community during college. College students need not wait to receive a diploma to make positive change. Through programs such as Big iDeas and Engaged Learning grants, students have the opportunity to receive funding for their ideas to affect community change. Multiple students have, through Big iDeas funding, started nonprofit organizations in Dallas that address critical needs of Dallas citizens.
In addition to programs, there are several student organizations that connect students to the community. SMU students are blessed with a world-class education and a beautiful campus to live and learn on every day.
Many Dallas residents though, living only miles away, are not as lucky. Dallas has a large homelessness issue that many are not aware of, as well as a large refugee population. While it is easy to spend your time at SMU near campus in the "bubble" we create for ourselves, your college experience will be much more fulfilling if you burst that bubble and get into the community surrounding the place you will soon call home.
Two of the student organizations that are dedicated to serving community needs and developing students into active citizens are Mustang Heroes and Alternative Breaks. Mustang Heroes is a student organization focused on sustainable service in Dallas.
This year they will work with Head Start and a family homelessness organization, as well as other projects. Alternative Breaks is another student organization that was founded in 1984 with the mission to provide direct community service to those who need it across the world, while preparing students to be lifelong active citizens.
Alternative Breaks offers trips for students to attend during fall, winter, spring, and summer breaks on many social issues. Past trips have dealt with service surrounding HIV/AIDS, homelessness, disaster recovery, education, youth and more. The trips give students education about an issue, the opportunity to gain direct experience with an issue, and then activities to reflect about how to impact the issue after the trip. Trip locations vary, but have included Ecuador, Los Angeles, New Mexico and Atlanta among other locations.
Both Mustang Heroes and Alternative Breaks represent an overriding theme of community engagement at SMU – opportunities exist for SMU students to better themselves and their communities, but it is up to the student to take charge.
Each student must decide if they want to get involved and make a difference in the community, but those who do will learn and develop much while beginning to leave a legacy on the communities and people they impact.
Matt Gayer is a senior studying political science and public policy. He can be reached at email@example.com.