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Social Work Program Accepts Grant, Looks to Expand Service Learning Opportunities

Ferris State UniversityFerris State University Social Work students will be encouraged to serve the greater Big Rapids community as they gain experience that is relevant to their course work, thanks to a $5,000 Engaged Department grant from the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning.

Program Coordinator Wendy Samuels said that Social Work demonstrated existing outreach efforts incorporated in its curriculum as part of the successful application. Samuels said that the concept of service is one of the six core values of the Social Work program.

“There are four or five classes that get the student out in the community, conducting various service projects,” Samuels said. “These funds will help us determine how we might implement service learning, where appropriate, across the curriculum.”

Samuels said a group of faculty that includes Dawn Fox and Michael Berghoef, from Social Work, and Mischelle Stone, from Criminal Justice, joined her in applying for the FCTL grant. They detailed the efforts that students have made in the greater community, where real-world experience was gained by these pursuits.

“Our students cannot act as counselors, but they meet with students in the Big Rapids schools who have been identified by principals and counselors as being at-risk,” Samuels said. “They can offer a listening ear during weekly visits, while learning skills that will help them in their careers. That program has been going on for more than a decade.”

A group of students taking classes at an outstate Ferris campus raised $5,000 for the Veterans Administration by organizing a 5-kilometer run. Samuels said these are examples of collaborative efforts students make in class that benefit both individuals and groups.

“They complete a needs assessment, then design projects that address various issues,” Samuels said. “We’re looking forward to discussing our goals for expanded academic service learning with the FCTL later this semester.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Social Work professor Wendy Samuels has been with the department since 1998, and is currently program administrator. Ferris’ Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning recently approved the program’s application for a $5,000 Engaged Department Grant.