Education of the Heart embraces Bush’s stance on community service

By Jen Smith
February 21, 2002

On Tuesday, January 29, in his first ever State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush called upon every American citizen to “commit at least two years… four thousand hours over the rest of your lifetime… to the service of your neighbors and your Nation.” Now that the president has started the ball rolling, what will the country do to meet the new home-front call to service?

Cabrini College prides itself on being a service-oriented institution with a mission that clearly states, “[Cabrini College] is a Catholic, coeducational, residential undergraduate college that strives to be a leader in community service.” So with a distinct and clear call to service from the president himself, what does a school like Cabrini College plan to accomplish in response?

“I think Cabrini does pretty well,” said Mary Laver, coordinator of community outreach at the Wolfington Center. “However, the question becomes, how to cultivate this desire?” Cabrini offers their students a number of forced service projects, such as their Sem 300 requirement and their freshman day of service, which is characteristically uncommon among most colleges, but Cabrini entitles its motive an “education of the heart” considering hands on experience to be equivocal to classroom learning.

“Twenty-year olds are young adults with minds of their own who can make responsible decisions,” Laver said. Until Sept. 11, “responsible decision making” included the personal choice of whether or not to participate in community service. However, for a service-oriented school such as Cabrini, community-service was never an option for most students.

While freshman day of service was considered “optional,” it was also “strongly recommended” that all incoming freshmen participate. Sem 300 is however not even partially optional, as it is essential to fulfill even the most basic of core requirements.

Cabrini does not consider Sem 300 a “service” course. The class is considered to be “the promotion of human dignity through a minimum of 10 hours of social action related to the reflective material of the course.” No matter what you call it, getting through Cabrini College without ever performing an act of service work could narrowly be avoided.

Laver does not feel that there is anything wrong however, with creating service opportunities like these and others, such as Project Appalachia and the Mexican Border Experience which are both entirely optional, for students. “Something that may cause a little pain and stress might have valuable meaning to it.” Laver said.

Cabrini graduate Missy Sellitto is currently living in Brooklyn N.Y. working for the Mercy Volunteer Corps. Sellitto feels that upon realizing her potential in a service-oriented environment, that her own life changed for the better, not simply the lives of those she helps. “This experience has been truly challenging. It has challenged my opinions, convictions, and the way that I view the world around me. Everyday I am challenged to reevaluate what is important in my life and the difference between my wants and needs. Most of all, this experience has challenged me to be honest with myself, recognizing my own strengths, successes, talents, and gifts as well as the weaknesses that I recognize all too easily.” Sellitto said of her work with the MVC.

Although uplifting, not all accounts of service work are as positive, which is a problem Cabrini faces while trying to uphold their mission of service, and one that Americans are sure to face in the months and years ahead.

According to Laver, the call to service is an admirable one, which will in effect promote an educated citizenry. The hopes of everyone from the president of the United States to the president of this college is that a society educated through the act of service learning, will be a “humane society” at the very least. However from this call to action seems to have expounded a rise in hesitation on the part of the American public, perhaps the same hesitation that Cabrini College faces when requiring its own students to participate in service projects.

“It’s a tension I don’t want to ignore,” Laver said “People need to make up their own mind about the benefit of service experience on education. All I can think to say is that I hope colleges like Cabrini would be a forefront for that issue.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jen Smith

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap