Anne Marie DeCarolis ’17
The Class of 2020 has just completed their jam-packed First Year Experience (FYE) course. They join countless Mighty Macs before them that have started their college journeys with this program; however, they are the first to have partaken in the newly redesigned IU FYE course. This class highlighted service learning while imparting skills that the Class of 2020 can and will use in their coming semesters at Immaculata.
This fall more than 220 students and their 18 FYE instructors and mentors participated in the annual Macs Giving Back Day of Service in August. They then focused their entire semester in designing and implementing a second service project for the good of the local nonprofit they met in August and those the nonprofits serve.
On Thursday, November 17, 2016, the Immaculata community gathered to learn more about and celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 through the FYE Poster Session in the Rotunda, similar to Posters Under the Dome. Representatives from five FYE Service Sites were on campus to share, celebrate and thank the students for their hard work. The freshman class gathered not only to speak about their projects, which they did with great enthusiasm, but perhaps more importantly, to share what they learned through completing these projects. While the many invaluable and enriching lessons cannot adequately be captured here, since they live in the hearts and minds of the students who articulated them with poise during the Poster Session, each FYE section’s nonprofit and semester-long project are described below:
Section 1, for the good of the Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children, collected monetary and hygiene product donations. To serve Safe Harbor, Section 2 hosted a bake sale and canned food drive to collect donations for the West Chester homeless shelter.
Sections 3, 4 and 14 partnered with the Chester County Food Bank. Section 3 collected non-perishable food and monetary donations. Section 4 centered their project on raising awareness of the need for volunteers at the Food Bank as well as what can be done on campus for the organization. Section 14 produced a volunteer testimonial video for the organization’s social media pages and website to encourage others to volunteer.
Sections 5 and 6 designed a project to benefit the Medal of Honor Grove/Freedoms Foundation. The classes collaborated to create QR codes, rich with researched information, which will enable Grove visitors to learn more about Medal of Honor recipients while touring the site in Valley Forge.
Sections 7 and 8 dedicated their semester to serving the needs of The ARC of Chester County. Section 7 centered their efforts on creating greater awareness of this organization through tabling, crafting literature and collecting funds. Section 8’s project entailed developing an interactive event for the organization’s adult members. The group hopes to build upon their success through including The ARC of Chester County in the spring semester’s Back Campus Block Party.
Sections 9 and 10 worked with Exton Senior Living. Section 9 designed and hosted a Fall Fun Day with the residents. Section 10 planned a pet therapy session for the senior citizens.
Sections 11 and 12 collaborated with Thorncroft Equestrian for their projects. Section 11 created a recycled tire beanbag toss game for the organization’s sensory riding trail. Section 12 built and painted bluebird houses for the organization to better therapy horse and rider experience through giving the birds, who keep the nonprofit’s bug population down, a place to live.
Section 13 hosted a successful bake sale for the betterment of Saint Rose of Lima School.
Sections 15 and 16 worked with Habitat for Humanity. Section 15 assisted the Kennett Square location by creating posters to hang in the ReStore location’s entryway detailing the organization’s mission and history. Section 16 assisted the Coatesville location by crafting two kid-friendly, interactive games that will help increase children’s awareness and understanding of the organization during promotional events in the community.
The two Honors FYE Sections designed service projects to benefit the Friends of Ridley Creek State Park. Honors Section 1 wrote a grant to get signs for the Park that will explain important information about invasive species. Honors Section 2 composed a grant for the purposes of educating patrons about natural resources and repurposing public structures and pavilions within the Park.
All of those involved in the above service-learning projects should be commended for their great work. The FYE Workgroup who redesigned FYE for this fall and the Academic Success Services Staff, who shepherded the program day-in and day-out should be wildly applauded for their tireless efforts and countless hours that made this program not only possible, but also a true success. The Fall 2016 FYE Program shined a spotlight on Immaculata’s core value of Service in a new way. The Class of 2020, the greater Immaculata family and the local community at large have been enriched because of these service projects.