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Service Learning Program


To fulfill the Jesuit ideal of being men and women in service to others, during the summer following their freshman year the Scholars explore the problems of hunger, homelessness, and educational inequity in the Boston area through participation in a program modeled after PULSE, Boston College's nationally acclaimed course of study and service. Through their work, Presidential Scholars are challenged to see themselves in relation to acute national problems, to think creatively about the roots of these problems, the nature and efficacy of society's response, and the response that these problems elicit in their own personal and professional lives. Placements in recent years have included the Spectrum Boys' Unit, the Suffolk County House of Correction, Rosie's Place, the Labouré Center, the Italian Home for Children, the Project Bread Hunger Hotline, Haley House, and St. Francis House. In parallel with their service, Scholars read and reflect on a variety of texts--from philosophy, social science, public policy, economics and theology--pertinent to issues of poverty and social justice. Weekly discussion sessions challenge Scholars to integrate these readings with their field experiences and to reflect on the implications for their personal values and professional goals.

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Vivian Chang'16, Lucy Methven'16 & Marissa Marandola'16 help paint a mural at the Italian Home in Boston.
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A few of the Sophomore Scholars with students from the Educational Development Group in Boston, MA.

For six weeks this summer I volunteered at two very different placements that ended up being connected in some interesting ways. One of my jobs was serving on Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline - a number for Massachusetts residents to call regarding information about food pantries and SNAP (food stamps). On the other days I taught English to adults at Educational Development Group (EDG). Teaching at EDG gave me a perspective on the experience of immigrants in the Boston area, specifically the detrimental effects that a language barrier can have on often very talented and intelligent individuals and the uplifting effects of eradicating this barrier. Interestingly enough, I found myself connected to the non-English-speaking population at Project Bread as well. The organization has its offices in East Boston, which is home to a large Hispanic population. Spending some time in East Boston is itself an immersive experience; English is rarely spoken there on the streets.The readings and resultant discussions of our weekly seminars enlightened us on effective service and awakened us to the call of social justice. We also met many individuals who modeled the ideals in our readings by putting them into action, and sought to begin to do this ourselves. The summer experience also provided us an opportunity to become connected to the city of Boston in ways that would not have otherwise been possible; we experienced some of less well-known components of the Boston community; this occurred by attending anything from a Bosnian barbeque and fundraiser to a showcase of the local start-up culture. These many diverse groups within the city of Boston gave us great insight into what uniquely makes Boston strong. These experiences became the inspiration for our Social Justice project and the basis for a commitment to share the stories of the many great people of Boston.

Andrew Boyce, A&S '16
Physics major from Mendon, NY

This past summer, I traveled on the Green Line to Haley House, not a typical destination for many Bostonians...I experienced the breadth of diversity in Boston, which assuredly extends to socio-economic diversity. Haley House, located in the South End of Boston, is a self-described "spiritually based community nurtured by the personalist tradition of the Catholic Worker Movement" that provides a wide array of programs for the community, including low income housing, soup kitchen, food pantry, bakery cafe, cooking lessons, elder meals, and more.  For six weeks I was involved in the day-to-day operations of Haley House, working with the elderly, indigent, and neglected - the most vulnerable and voiceless members of society.  This was a side of Boston that I had not yet seen, a side of Boston that some lifelong Bostonians had never seen.  This was one component of the PSP Summer Service Program...Undeniably, the Summer Service Program awakened the emotions of every Scholar, but in a very different ways.  While some Scholars expressed feelings of confusion, still others conveyed feelings of joy - joy in celebrating the dignity of every individual, regardless of circumstance.  Yet, all Scholars were challenged personally and changed for the better by this experience.

Brian Varian, Carroll School '11
Finance major from Mahopac, NY