10 Years is Back to School Time

March 6, 2017
Merith Weisman
Merith Weisman

It's hard for me to believe that 10 years ago I moved cross country with two suitcases to begin my life here and open the Center for Community Engagement at SSU. I look back on the warm welcome I received when I got here knowing absolutely no one. I did have 5 years of higher ed service-learning experience and 5 years of community-based experience, but at a completely different university and with a completely different community. Yet I was accepted and embraced, even as I followed printed out Mapquest directions to and from campus and community partners' locations.

And now, ten years later, I've been admitted to the CODEL program, a mostly online 3-year doctoral program in Educational Leadership. The joint program offered by Fresno State University and CSU Channel Islands "is dedicated to enriching and supporting leaders who are devoting their lives to social justice and democracy in and through education." Coursework begins this summer and I expect that my work at SSU will only be improved through my learning.

I've learned so much over this decade from students, community partners and faculty that I can't thank you all enough for your support. I continue to be inspired by the transformative power of service-learning. As one student reflects, "Service-learning has benefited me because I am pretty self conscious about my academic competence and was never good at school, so I lacked the confidence to have the skills to benefit others and want to volunteer. Service-learning helped me get out of my own head and helped me have a more positive outlook in being involved with my community."

I'm also inspired by knowing that service-learning not only increases student volunteerism, but also increases students' civic participation in general, long after they graduate. Knowing that our work is providing California with a civically engaged professional work force is what keeps me going. I look forward to seeing what we accomplish together in the next ten years!