Loyola University Maryland

With Parents Online Newsletter

Survey reveals early service experiences inspire first-year students

For a number of years, Loyola’s Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ) has operated a program called Student Orientation to Service—or S.O.S.—designed to introduce first-year students to the experience of service through a three-day immersion experience held just before Fall Orientation. SOS allows students to engage in direct service with people who are materially poor or homeless in downtown Baltimore, and provides an opportunity to explore the issues, concerns, and realities of the men, women, and children experiencing these challenges. This past year, CCSJ surveyed 235 S.O.S. alumni about the impact of their participation in the program. The results were startling, and provide vivid evidence of the role service can play in preparing students to live lives as men and women for, and with, others. 

  • 97 percent said that involvement in S.O.S. inspired them to become more involved in service at Loyola.
  • 94 percent said their service experiences were very important to their Loyola educations.
  • 59 percent of S.O.S. participants remained involved in service throughout their four years as Loyola students.
  • 68 percent went on to take academic courses that incorporated service-learning into the curriculum.
  • More than 70 later held leadership positions including Spring Break Outreach and Project Mexico team leader or program assistant or service coordinator for a specific CCSJ partner agency.   
  • 22 percent embarked on a full-time service domestic service experience (e.g., Teach for America, Jesuit Volunteer Corps) after graduation.
  • 5 percent chose to pursue a full-time international service experience (e.g., Peace Corps).
  • 69 percent of participants who have graduated still engage in service regularly.

Said one survey respondent, “My S.O.S. experience was transformative. Never in my life up to that point was I confronted with homelessness in a human rights and justice context. My experience started me on the path of questioning and action towards social change. It also encouraged reflection, which helped to channel my feelings, relate to others, and apply my service to everyday life. I am a different person because of SOS.”

ISSUE 25, FALL 2012

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