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Students share the impact of their service-​​learning experiences

Varsha Ramsumair

December 13, 2016 by Greg St. Martin 

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Varsha Ram­sumair said she teared up during her final visit with the Boston ele­men­tary school stu­dents she’d been working with this semester through a service-learning course called “Human Ser­vices Professions.”

Ram­sumair, SSH’20, a com­bined major in human ser­vices and crim­inal jus­tice, and three other stu­dents men­tored female third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders for 90 min­utes on Friday after­noons through a part­ner­ship with Northeastern’s chapter of Strong Women Strong Girls. The cur­riculum is designed around the non­profit organization’s mis­sion of empow­ering girls, with col­lege stu­dents serving as role models and leading a range of activities—from helping the girls share their “peaks and val­leys” moments of the day to dis­cussing promi­nent female leaders and role models.

The par­tic­u­larly touching moment, Ram­sumair recalled, came when one of the girls admitted that early in the semester she wasn’t sure whether these col­lege men­tors would truly care for her and her peers. But, according to Ram­sumair, the girl said, “by the end she felt like she could really be herself.”

Ram­sumair noted that she was struck by the ability of the ele­men­tary school stu­dents and col­lege men­tors to bring “good energy” into each other’s days. Through the service-learning expe­ri­ence, she dis­cov­ered she wants to con­tinue working with youth, noting, “This is such a good cause I believe in.” She added that a sig­nif­i­cant part of her class­work focused on ana­lyzing and defining social change, which she kept in the front of her mind when working with the girls. “True to the con­tent of my class, I want these girls to be empow­ered to create pos­i­tive social change, to believe in their effi­cacy,” she said….

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