Feature Article

At Your Service

College Recognized for Community Engagement

Students on a Service Trip in North Carolina. Fleurie at back, center.

For some Lasell students, community service engagement becomes a part of their lives at a younger age; for others, service is a way to build community once they arrive on campus.

"I often found myself doing random acts of kindness throughout the community in which I grew up," says Shawn Fleurie '15, who was excited to learn about Lasell's community engagement when he arrived as a sophomore.

At Lasell he embraced the idea of giving to others to learn about and engage with more of the world.

The College has long helped students like Fleurie expand their understanding of the world through involvement in public service and recently received important acknowledgement of this long-term commitment to service.

Last fall, Lasell became one of 361 colleges and universities across the country to receive recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for its institutional commitment to community service engagement.

The Community Engagement Classification serves as a badge of honor for colleges like Lasell that make service a priority inside and outside of class.

"While higher education has come under increased scrutiny regarding its relevance to real public concerns and problems," Vice President for Academic Affairs James Ostrow tells Leaves. "Lasell College has prioritized the development of social awareness, social responsibility, and citizenship at the heart of its educational mission."

Senior Fleurie, once engaged in community service at Lasell, was able to cultivate his ingrained values of service to others and jump into service activities and supervise fellow student tutors in the America Reads/America Counts program - which culminated this year in his appointment as Lasell's AmeriCorps VISTA. This role - usually reserved for a college graduate - requires a year-long commitment to one service agency.

"My outlook on life has changed. You open up to people you may not have previously, you [often] learn about a different part of the country in need and most of all you learn about yourself," Fleurie adds. "I would not be the same person I am today without the service opportunities that opened up to me throughout my time [at Lasell.]"

Fleurie is not alone in his engagement with the community.

Eight-five percent of graduates know exactly what that means first-hand because they have all had at least one college-sponsored service experience at Lasell - through such activities as Read for America with the Center for Community Based Learning (CCBL), international service in such locales as Mexico, Ecuador or Belize or local outreach at schools or public events.

"We can be very proud of the ways in which we reach out the community and stand ready to help the community reach in," says Sharyn Lowenstein, director of the CCBL, who submitted the College's self study results for consideration by the Carnegie Foundation. "Nearly every college has as its mission one of social responsibility. Lasell can proudly say we are walking that talk."

This recognition and others such as the President's Community Service Honor Roll - which the College has received four years in a row - helps set Lasell apart and solidify its mission.

Walking the talk, something meaningful indeed.

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