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Learning communities serve in Rome

by Maggie Pruitt

As a new freshman begins his or her journey as a Shorter student, he or she may feel lost and unsure of how to make new friends.  At Shorter, Learning Communities are helpful groups that each first-year student joins at the beginning of the school year. Learning Communities (LC) meet one time per week, and the students learn different tips about the Shorter lifestyle. Learning Communities help first-year students adapt to new routines and life on their own.

The experience starts at the beginning of the academic year with Camp Hawk. This event creates an enjoyable and easy-going atmosphere for freshmen to see new faces and learn more about Shorter. The friendships made through Camp Hawk and individual Learning Communities make the first year at Shorter memorable and exciting.

Students are also able to ask professors or peer mentors questions about anything a first-year student may need. Julia Raymond, freshman pre-nursing major, said her learning community assisted in helping her adjust to the Shorter lifestyle and find her way around campus.

“Learning Community has helped me acclimate to Shorter,” Raymond said.  “My LC professors and peer mentor answered questions and helped direct me throughout the year, especially when I was registering for classes. The scavenger hunt last semester helped me get to know the campus.”

In addition to helping first-year students, the learning communities volunteer to conduct a service project and help others in need. Each project targets the Shorter community or the greater-Rome area. The goals of the service projects are to help make someone’s life a little easier and brighten his or her day. Dr. Mark Hamilton, assistant professor of English, said service projects help him remember to focus on the most important things in life, like serving the Lord and doing everything for His glory.

“Service projects always remind me that people, who are down on their luck or having a difficult time can be just as happy as people for whom things are going well,” said Hamilton. “This helps me focus on the most important things in life, what I do for Jesus, not how wealthy I am or how things are going personally for me.”

As a first-year student, I am a part of LC 17, and this semester my class decided to help Dr. Christine Szostak, a psychology professor who is visually impaired. My LC decided to decorate her office, so that students who come to talk to her can be greeted by walls of color and pictures, instead of white, bare walls.

Taking a step off the Shorter hill, Lora Bruce, a first-year student, went to the Rome kitchen with her learning community to help the less fortunate.  Her experience at the Rome kitchen was rewarding and touching.

“I would love to go back to the Rome community kitchen,” said Bruce. “It was moving to be able to help those in need.”

In addition to helping the community, Shorter students and many Learning Communities also look to help our local environment. Raymond and her learning community traveled to Ridge Ferry Park to pick up trash. Raymond said that cleaning the park was a humbling experience, and she discovered how easy it is to help the community.

Across the Shorter student body, acts of kindness occur all of the time.  People look to help others in need, and the Shorter campus is just one place for students to start. Finding ways to put someone before ourselves is what Transforming Lives through Christ is all about. Shorter University’s goal for students is to take God’s message and look to change someone else’s life. This is what all of the learning communities are striving to do, and with every service project accomplished, a person’s life can be a happier. Learning communites continue to serve the Rome area every year with each incoming freshman class.