Student Stories

Through service learning, interactions like those provided by the FOCUS program benefit the students academically, professionally, and personally, which is absolutely vital to the social, cultural, and economic growth of our nation.

My experience as a Service Learning Fellow in Professor Jenni Owen’s Policy in the Bull City class has provided a unique glimpse into the wheels turning on the backside of public life.

I chose to help ESL students in the Durham School of the Arts in 10th grade mathematics twice a week as my service-learning component. At first, I wasn’t comfortable. I had no idea what to expect, and the students didn’t seem to acknowledge me. However, as the semester went on, I created relationships with the students and was able to watch their mathematics skills grow.

Participating in service-learning has given me the opportunity to engage in Duke's greater culture of service and civic engagement.

Apart from sharing my knowledge with the student I worked with, this experience opened my eyes to the pertinent issues that Durham schools face.

My experiences in service-learning within Dr. Gold’s courses have really challenged me as a pre-med student to delve past the scientific part of health/geriatric care and really understand people using biopsychosocial framework.

What surprises me most about this experience is how much more information I've retained from service learning classes than I have from other classes; I attribute this to the hands-on nature of the class.

Service-learning allows students to come together with other members of the community and combine everyone’s knowledge and experiences to work towards social change.  It offers both intellectual stimulation and personal connections.

My service-learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom have led to academic and personal interests and growth. Probably most relevant to other Duke students, it's made me ask myself, how can I maximize the impact of my service in a thoughtful and informed way?

Why has service-learning been such an integral part of my education? Because I believe that you can never truly be educated about a community or the people in it without service.

I discovered that by participating in service-learning courses, I not only learned scholastically, but it also enabled me to establish relationships with people of all ages in the Durham community.

Service learning experiences like my experience in Making Social Policy have shown me the importance of connecting research, policy, and the experiences of real people.

I had often wondered "what's the point?" when learning some esoteric piece of knowledge or formula. Now, I'm better able to devote focus and energy to my studies and parse out the many, complex relationships that exist between learning and practice.

Students understand that community service is not about allotting a few hours a week as a “feel-good” exercise but is instead a way to explore and learn about the people and places where they live.

(Service-learning) has afforded me not only the opportunity to forge relationships with dynamic and interesting faculty, staff, students and community partners, but also has pushed me to confront the importance of reflection in service as well as the complexity of partnership in the realm of civic engagement.