Community-Based Learning (CBL) is a unique pedagogical philosophy in that it couples hands-on, professional experience with classroom learning. Students gain experience working with nonprofit organizations in a variety of fields and receive course credit for their experience. Personally, CBL has had a lasting impact on the course of my career, both at Holy Cross and in what I hope to do after Holy Cross. I was curious to see if any of the students I interviewed were similarly impacted by their experiences.
All but one indicated that CBL has impacted their plans for after graduation in one way or another. Because Taylor E., a graduating senior, took his first CBL course this semester, it makes sense that it did not affect his potential pursuits after graduation. The other students’ CBL involvement has affected their post-grad plans both directly and indirectly.
Both Annie W. and Jake M. describe how CBL impacted their expected career path after graduation. Annie W.’s experience working with an autistic student contributed to her desire to teach special education next year. Jake M.’s firsthand experience with unaccompanied refugee minors has inspired him to shape his desired career path into a more humanitarian mold. Alexandra C. had a less transformative experience with her CBL, detailing that rather than altering her plans for after graduation, the skills she exercised in CBL will be of use to her in her fields of interest. More indirectly speaking, CBL affected Cindy N. and Cassie G.’s plans for after graduation by helping them figure out what they don’t want to do.
CBL has affected my hopes for after graduation as well as my current path of study in more direct than indirect ways. While working with Let’s Get Ready (LGR) inspired my interest in educational injustice and my desire to use my own education toward a socially productive end, it also taught me that teaching high school students might not be the best career path for me (as it turns out, I tend to lack charisma in a classroom setting).
But on the whole, CBL has inspired me to become a more involved student at Holy Cross. After my first experience in a CBL course in the spring of 2013, I applied to be a CBL Intern. When I was accepted to the Intern Program, my desire to get involved with the program prompted me to take on the leadership position of Marketing Coordinator. Though only in a modest way, I’ve been able to contribute to the Intern Program through initiatives like producing CBL Intern T-shirts and starting a CBL blog.
CBL has also piqued my interest in potentially doing a post-graduate service year (or two). I’ve always planned on grad school, and I know that if it were not for CBL, post-graduate service is something I would not even be considering. For me, CBL has been a source of motivation for me both in my career at Holy Cross and in my plans for the long term.