Jill K. Burk

 

Pennsylvania State University, Berks

As the new editor of Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research, I began reading student submissions veiled in a cloud of uncertainty. What type of submissions would the journal receive?  Would they be of high academic quality? Would they contain a breadth of topics and experiences?

After reading a number of submissions, my uncertainty was lifted. As I read, I quickly learned about the many talented, driven, and passionate students who work hard to create a positive impact on their schools and on their communities by participating in fruitful faculty-led academic and community partnerships.

Volume 3 of Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research received 58 submissions from students in higher education institutions across the U.S. and Canada. Of these, 20 essays were published. All of the authors revised their original submissions (excluding research done in partnership with community organizations, which is published here in its original form). The articles published in this volume represent research and reflections by a very talented group of undergraduates. Many of them graduated in May 2014 and are currently in graduate school, medical school, or working in a variety of fields. Please take a moment to read the student biographies. They contain an impressive list of accomplishments.

The articles in this volume celebrate student experiences. These undergraduate authors ask hard questions related to their education and their communities. For example, Cynthia Maceda shares her experience conducting academic service learning in a local jail with incarcerated juvenile males. An article by Calleja Smiley and one by ErikaGrace Davies deal with issues of homelessness and charity. Alex Dinsmoor's piece and Taliah Miralek's article discuss issues of social justice and societal norms and structures. Alexander Tougas discusses the importance of urban planning in Portland, Maine. Lauren Reichart and Griff Shelley's article tackles the inherent challenges that occur while undertaking service learning and community-based research in the college classroom.

All of the authors who submitted a piece to Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research worked closely with a faculty mentor on revising and editing their work. More than 30 faculty mentors from disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts and from institutions in the U.S. and across the globe worked with at least one submission and student author(s). This mentor-student relationship spanned time zones, institutional settings, and disciplinary boundaries. Faculty mentors worked countless hours with students they have never personally met or worked with before. The faculty mentors' work demonstrates their devotion to community engagement and student learning. This devotion is one that is unmatched and unwavering, and I thank all of the faculty mentors for it.

In addition, I want to acknowledge and thank everyone who helped to produce and support Volume 3 of Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research:

All of the students who submitted their writing to the journal;

All of the published writers who accepted feedback and worked diligently and professionally on their revisions;

The Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research editorial board and faculty mentors;

Editorial assistant Alexandria Yeager;

Faculty who encouraged their students to submit their work. Thank you for your commitment to service learning and community-based research;

Laurie Grobman, founding editor of Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research. Thank you for your continued support of the journal and your enthusiasm for its success.

  1. Keith Hillkirk, Chancellor, Penn State University, Berks; Paul Esqueda, Sr. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Penn State University, Berks; and Belen Rodriguez-Mourelo, Head of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Penn State University, Berks, for your financial and other support of the journal.

Through reading the pieces in this volume, I hope you learn more about the many types of service learning and community-based research being conducted by undergraduates and community partners across the world. These partnerships create unique educational experiences that are remembered when others have been forgotten. They create experiences that impact not only the student, but have long-lasting and long-reaching effects on communities and on humanity.

Published: 2014-11-22