John Carroll University’s dedication to service is again being recognized at the national level. Having devoted over 70,000 hours of efforts in 2012 alone, JCU was recognized with 14 other schools amongst 690 contenders as a finalist in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
The program’s purpose is ultimately to acknowledge universities that have made a distinct and lasting impact on their surrounding communities, according to a press release on JCU’s website. The University’s Center for Service and Social Action director, Margaret Finucane, said, “For students who are interested in service, a major part of the Jesuit mission is commitment to the community and serving others. This award puts us in the top two percent of schools that won the award, and that recognition in itself is a national appreciation of the work that the John Carroll students do in the community. It is a strong endorsement for anyone looking at us as an institution, and our student involvement is a real draw.”
Finuncane also said that JCU President, the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J. has been “very intentional about providing support and building service here, making it an important part of the student experience at John Carroll.”
JCU also works towards seeking out community leaders to be a part of programs like the Arrupe Scholars. With an estimated two-thirds of JCU students lending aid and with 86 service-learning courses offered in the curriculum, the President’s Community Honor Roll recognition reflects this engagement that Finuncane believes sets John Carroll service participants apart from the rest.
“If you’re going to rake leaves, we ask that you talk to the person you are raking the leaves for. It’s about creating relationships,” she said.
Maryellen Callanan, associate director for CSSA, added, “The reason community partners want John Carroll students is because they engage with people in a unique, personable way.”
CSSA offers diverse opportunities that can be one-time, weekly or immersion-based service experiences. Of the variety of volunteer services that John Carroll offers, work in the St. Clair/Superior Neighborhood, Footprints for Fatima and the Ohio Graduation Test Tutoring Program were among some of the programs highlighted to show John Carroll’s commitment to the Cleveland community.
The “We the People” and “Youth for Justice” programs are also among some of the programs that reach out to the Cleveland metropolitan area. Offered for fifth and eighth graders, and at the high school level, the “We the People” program is the main social studies curriculum for many schools in the area, providing a hands-on education on the Constitution and how to engage its ideals within communities. Through these programs, many students research topics of injustice, law and collective action to teach ways in which their voice can make positive difference in their communities.
Over 200 of the eighth grade students involved in the Youth for Justice program will be having a fair hosted at John Carroll this Friday, displaying boards of their various research topics of acts of injustice. They will present these boards to a panel of judges, and the winning team will show their presentations in Columbus to the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education.
Callanan feels that John Carroll’s commitment to programs such as these “is leadership that challenges you. It is a service in which your presence makes a difference in their lives, as well as they make a difference in your life.”
The distinction of the recognition to Finucane is “not to do something for someone else as a ‘check it off the list, put it on my resume, let’s move on,’ it’s about finding opportunities to learn from those experiences, to service others and to engage with people and learn from them—to learn about your life and to grow and to challenge yourself. It’s easy, in some respects, to work with people who are just like you, but that does not force you to grow in the same way. Working with someone different than you—either socioeconomically, racially, ethnically, religiously—it challenges you to step outside yourself and see the world differently,” she said.