Jamie BorelliHonors Program Student

Four years ago I was sitting with my college acceptance letters deciding which school I would attend in the fall. I sifted through until I had narrowed it down to two schools - Lasell College and Johnson and Wales University. Not really sure of where I wanted to go, I made my decision to come to Lasell based on three things: it was near Boston, I received some money and would be in the Honors Program, and it was close enough to home. On Lasell’s website I continuously came across the term “Connected Learning.” I could tell that it has something to do with out-of-classroom experiences. "This isn’t just your typical read-your-textbooks-and-take-exams kind of school." "Big deal," I thought to myself.

Throughout my years at Lasell I have had four experiences of Connected Learning I significantly benefited from, and have gained skills and knowledge that I would not have been able to learn just from a classroom learning environment. One was in the Honors Seminar Leadership fall of sophomore year. The project consisted of planning a trip to New Orleans to do service work after Hurricane Katrina and to Cape Cod to work with Habitat for Humanity. The class was dedicated to learning about leaders and how to gain leadership abilities. The class was also to come up with some sort of project to show leadership. Some people in the class, including myself, planned a trip to work with Habitat for Humanity on Cape Cod. On the trip to Cape Cod I saw a place I had loved so much, since I had vacationed there every year since I was young, in a whole new light. I had never imagined the poverty on the Cape the way it actually was. Vacationing, I always stayed in the nice tourist-driven places, and now I was made aware of an entire group of people who could barely afford to buy groceries while I was lying on the beach enjoying myself for a week, something these people would never be able to do.

Jamie’s Honors 205 in New Orleans after Katrina
Jamie’s Honors 205 in New Orleans after Katrina

While working for Habitat for Humanity I moved dirt from a large pile to the foundation of the house. The entire foundation had to be surrounded with dirt and leveled out all the way around the house. It was tiring work, but the other volunteers we were working with, who were from Martha’s Vineyard, made the day go by quickly by talking to us and helping us do this job that before that day, I never would have been inclined to do. I learned a lot through doing Habitat for Humanity. First, it felt good to do something for people who couldn’t afford to pay for it. It was a very humbling experience as well. We are able to meet the owner of the house, who came by as we were working on it. She seemed like a regular woman, not someone who would not be able to afford a house to live in. She was more than grateful to the people who came to give their time and effort to help her, and it was a satisfying experience to see her so happy because strangers had lent her a helping hand when she needed it most. I wished that I could get more people involved in this kind of work, because it is truly moving to know that you are doing work for someone who would never be able to afford it. This woman didn’t even have running water before Habitat for Humanity came to help her, and the kindness of strangers enabled her to have something, like running water, that people, including myself, take for granted every day.

Honors 205: A continuing relationship with Habitat on Cape Cod
Honors 205: A continuing relationship with Habitat on Cape Cod

Through this class I learned the true meaning of leadership. It’s not about running an organization or being the leader of a group. Leadership is something that we all can do, but in our own way. No two leaders are alike in the things they do and believe in. Going to Cape Cod made me realize that no matter where I am, there is someone who can use help, and being a leader is about finding ways to help these people. The Cape is somewhere I had gone every year since I was little and by going to do Habitat for Humanity I saw a population of people I never knew existed.

Connected Learning has enriched my educational experience at Lasell College. Through the experiences I was able to apply the knowledge I learned in the classroom setting in real life experiences. Also, I was able to build on that knowledge. Connected Learning also gave me the opportunity to learn about myself as a person, and grow. I was able to learn my leadership style and the way in which I react to problems. These experiences also helped me define my career goals, in narrowing populations and settings that I wish to work in.

My education at Lasell College has been about becoming interested in what I am learning and applying it in real settings. Whether it be at an internship, or in a class, Connected Learning has broadened the way I think by allowing me to use the knowledge that I have in new ways. After leaving Lasell College I will not leave with only a degree. I will leave with a sense of who I am, what I want to do, and experience in doing it. This is because of the experienced I gained through Connected Learning.

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