Service learning an opportunity to get experience for careers

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Service learning has decreased in the number of courses and volunteering opportunities since moving to the office of student life in August 2010 because there are no stipends or bonuses to fund it, said Emily Kahanek, assistant student life coordinator and director of the center for civic engagement.

Kahanek said, and the college’s website states, the goal of service learning is to for students and professors to gain experience in a field and give to the community. “Service learning gives no additional pay. It takes a special professor to get involved with service learning without compensation,” Kahanek said. “Professors can choose whether or not to participate in giving service learning courses.”

She said the program currently has five professors and eight courses. Kahanek said no information was available from previous semesters of service learning classes and professors.

Art history Professor Debra Schafter said students enrolled in service learning often get to intern in the field of the service learning course.

Schafter also implements student learning as an optional addition to her course, ARTS 1304, Art History Survey 2.

Enrolled students are required to intern at San Antonio Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum, Artpace and Contemporary Art. Only students approved by these museums and galleries end up in the service learning component of Schafter’s class.

Two students from the art history service learning class recently participated in “Chalk It Up,” one helping out with children and another organizing with the event. “Chalk It Up” is an annual arts festival on Houston Street from Artpace and teaches people to build murals.

Students will earn a certificate for completed service hours based on instructor requirements.

Mortuary science Professor Mary Mena requires 48 hours in six weeks of service learning for mortuary science while Schafter requires 32 hours of service learning in her art history course.

Mena said students receive grades for their student learning experience. “Students will go to different assigned funeral homes,” Mena said.

They will assist funeral home directors with graves, escort them to a chapel and sit with the funeral home director when making funeral arrangements. Mena said service learning is almost completed for her fall course, and she intends to continue it in the spring.

In the past, sociology Professor Terri Slonaker has been involved with service learning. Slonaker said she was not able to do it this semester but she hopes to do it again in the spring. Slonaker said students volunteered at local hospice agencies, rehabilitation facilities and played center activity bingo.

Sociology Adjunct John Algeo teaches a sociology course in New Braunfels. Algeo said service learning is optional for his class, and 18 hours of service learning would allow participating students to drop their lowest grade.

Students are also required to write summaries in his course that apply sociology terms. For more information, call Kahanek at 210-486-0127 or visit


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