Mount Union Organizational Communication Class Participates in Service-Learning

April 22, 2010

While Mount Union College offers a variety of courses, Organizational Communication (CM225) is offering excellent practical experience by operating like a real corporation with a student chief executive officer, four departments and a client.

On the first day of class, students received an employee handout instead of a syllabus and were given job descriptions of each position available within the CM 225 Corporation. Students then submitted a resume and cover letter and interviewed for their desired position within the corporation.

'Students best learn about organizational communication by actually being a part of an organization,' said Dr. Mary Eicholtz, assistant professor of communication.

The four departments include public affairs, operations and finance, human resources and client services. The students worked together to come up with a name and slogan for their service organization, which is called 'Helping Hands Services: Planning today for tomorrow's future.'

Part of the inspiration for this class was a $5,000 grant from Learn and Serve America. Eicholtz decided to use half of the grant this semester to help CM 225's client, which is Feed My Sheep Ministries located off of Main Street in Alliance.

It is the mission of CM 225's corporation to assess the needs of Alliance youth recruited by Feed My Sheep and assist them in locating resources for making decisions about their future.

'The youth who come to Feed My Sheep are in need of good role models,' Eicholtz said. 'Most of them aren't sure what options they have for their future or what they want to do with the rest of their lives.'

In order to accomplish this task, Helping Hands Services split the youth into two groups, College Raiders and Eager to Learn. The first group consists of adolescents who learn about different options after high school, such as college and technical schools. The latter group is comprised of young children who are taught career socialization. Students a part of client services visit the youth at Feed My Sheep Ministries every week.

Students employed with Helping Hands Service see the importance of their organization.

'It gets kids off the streets and keeps them out of trouble,' Adam Studeny, senior and class public affairs vice president said.

'Our organization helps lead them in the right direction,' added Alex Ulbricht, sophomore and class public relations specialist. 'We emphasize the importance of staying in school and also try to improve their self-esteem.'

Helping Hands Services recently took the College Raiders group to visit John Carroll University, ITT Tech and Mount Union College to show the teenagers various options to continue their education after high school. That same Saturday, Helping Hands Services also took the kids a part of Eager to Learn to the Cleveland Science Center.

As a wrap-up to the program, all the youth from Feed My Sheep Ministers and their parents will gather at Mount Union for a luncheon and autograph signing session with the Mount Union football players.

'Getting the youth to set foot on a college campus helps them to visualize college as a possibility for their future,' Eicholtz said.

Overall, both the students and Eicholtz believe CM 225 and its service-learning component has been a success.

'It has been a really good hands-on learning experience,' Ulbricht said. 'We have had the opportunity to put into practice what we have learned in class.'

'I am amazed with my students' enthusiasm and energy and they have far exceeded my expectations,' Eicholtz said. 'I have seen a positive difference made in the youth from Feed My Sheep Ministries and it has become a joy for my students to work with them.'

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