After the hard year that was brought on by COVID-19, Trinity students are eager to get out and serve. Just under 100 undergrad students are participating in service-learning of some kind, which represents a quarter of the entire undergrad class.
This includes students who are studying remotely and students on-campus. Students are encouraged to find ways to serve that will help cultivate their individual skill sets and match their unique interests. This freedom allows students to learn more about their own abilities and how to use them effectively as they care for those around them.
A few of the ways students are serving this year are by leading groups on-campus, remodeling basements, tutoring, and assisting in food drives.
Part of Trinity’s mission is to provide students with the tools of lifelong learning and building bridges in love. An integral piece of that formation is having space to serve like Christ during their time at Trinity and to foster a desire to serve that will last throughout their lives and respective careers. Service-learning is one major way Trinity practically implements that goal.
“It helps students see the wide range of needs in the world around them and gives them a chance to help,” Lecturer in Leadership and Service-Learning Brett Mitchell said. “We hope it awakens a passion for service that carries on wherever it might be.”
Senior Hannah Fuchs served as a small group leader for Christ Church in Lake Forest last year and is serving there again this year.
“I didn’t have a set goal in the beginning last year,” senior Hannah Fuchs said. “But as I started serving and as I got involved in the Christ Church community, my goal became to take all that I’ve learned and what I’ll continue to learn and use it to work in the church for the rest of my life.”
Fuchs is pursuing a degree in sports management but plans to use the skills and experience she found at Christ Church for the rest of her life.
Service-learning is meant to foster known skills but also push students to learn new skills and experiment in new areas.
“It helps them better understand some of their strengths and it helps them out of their comfort zone in a way, to try something new,” Mitchell said.
Junior Carl Edmondson is serving as the President of Black Student Union (BSU) this semester, which allows him to use his people skills and big personality to the fullest, but it also challenges him in several ways.
“My goal is to be a better leader,” Edmondson said.
He wants to serve his team and those participating in BSU through his leadership, because, to him, leadership and serving are the same thing.
“If you want to lead, you have to serve,” Edmondson said. “I’m a leader but I’m not above anyone. . . . Every member of my cabinet I treat like I want to be treated.”
Students learn to serve through leadership opportunities and other conceptual ways, but there is also the essential hands-on work, and that’s what senior Kayla Leske signed up for.
Leske worked for Habitat for Humanity last year as she helped prepare the non-profit housing organization’s store. This year, she will be doing similar work on Trinity’s campus at the Clothes Horse—a ministry that serves students and their families through donations of food and gently used clothing and household items.
“I want to give back to Trinity,” Leske said. “My experience at Trinity has helped me and I want to give back to campus in any way I can. The Clothes Horse has been closed during the pandemic, so we’re getting stuff together to reopen.”
As Christians, we are called to serve and love our neighbor. How we do that happens in many different ways, but through service-learning opportunities at Trinity students can establish that discipline of following Christ and actively love their neighbors during their college years.