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Giving sense to service-learning hours

FGCU has many resources available to help students earn a job after graduation, from Career Development Services to internship coordinators. But Jessica Rhea, director of community engagement, said one of the best opportunities students have to prepare for a job is one that is required — service-learning hours.
While all FGCU students are required to perform at least 40 hours of service-learning, Rhea doesn’t like to call it a requirement.
“I refer to it as a student’s service-learning opportunity because of all she or he can gain from these experiences,” Rhea wrote in an email.
One of these benefits is employability. Rhea cited a Forbes magazine article titled “The 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 2015 Graduates.” The article says that a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey polled 260 hiring managers to see which skills employers look for in 2015 graduates. The top three skills — ability to work in a team structure, ability to solve problems and ability to communicate verbally — are all skills Rhea said students can learn through service learning.
Another skill Rhea said service-learning gives students is an “enhanced sense of civic responsibility.” That civic responsibility is apparent in the number of hours FGCU has acquired in its 18 years of existence.
“Just last year, our students contributed 240,934 hours of service to this community and beyond,” Rhea said, “And since 1997, FGCU students have given just shy of 2 million hours of service to this community and beyond.”
Rhea estimates that when the value of those hours is calculated it equates to $41 million contributed to our region and beyond. FGCU is one of the few public universities in the state of Florida that requires service-learning hours for undergraduate students.
The requirement started when FGCU opened in 1997. Chief of Staff Susan Evans said the requirement was a part of the 10-year development plan for the university devised by Board of Regents, which has since become the Board of Governors.
“When FGCU opened its doors for students in 1997, the service-learning requirement was put into place for undergraduate students to instill a commitment to giving back to one’s greater community,” Evans wrote in an email.
Along with the personal benefits of service-learning, FGCU has received several national and statewide awards because of its commitment to service. This year, it was awarded a civic engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation. Rhea said FGCU is recognized every year by the President’s Higher Education Committee and the Florida Campus Compact for its service.
“If students have questions about service-learning, they can reach us at [email protected] or 239-590-7015 or stop by and see the amazing Service-Learning Team on the 4th floor of the Library,” Rhea said.
The deadline to hand in service-learning hours for students who wish to graduate this December is Friday, Nov. 13. Service-learning forms can be found on FGCU’s service-learning website.

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