Dr. Rosemary Shaver, Senior Program Manager of HESA and Scholarships, presented her research titled The Perceived Influence of Participation in Undergraduate International Service-Learning on Recent United States College Graduates’ Post-College Readiness on September 23, 2022. The research explored the ways in which higher education institutions prepare students for life after graduation focusing on the transformative experiences from service-learning trips abroad. She was successful in defending her research and was awarded with a doctoral degree in Higher Education from Wilkes University.
Through qualitative research, Rosemary found that these experiences do have a transformative impact on participants in many ways. Perhaps the most notable is the exposure students gained to cultures different from their own and the self-reflection ignited by the experiences.
One research participant, Ashton, explained the struggle to grapple with knowing there is a great need for support and resources in the world, and yet it can feel overwhelming to consider the seemingly small impact of one person. While he wasn’t able to find a way to increase the impact one human can have, he identified learning that even small acts can have a lasting impact that is worth it. He explained,
“We see problems and we want to do something about it. But then to be able to do a small thing in that moment to address the problem is really great because it’s easy to look at a problem and be so overwhelmed by its immensity … But to be able to address it in a small way right then and there is I think … all of what a lot of us can do right? We can hope and try to push … bigger systemic change through … civic actions … but to be able to say like … a kid learned his multiplication tables better because the notebook a guy gave him, that’s pretty cool.”
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Participants also expressed having to work through cultural shock and a recognition of privilege during and after their experiences. One participant, Reed, described a deeper reflection he made after coming back from his trip:
“A few weeks after getting back to the United States … I would look around and see different things that would stress me out and different things that would worry me, and I think to myself, this is nothing compared to what they are experiencing.”
Aside from examining the influence of service trips and abroad experiences on students, Rosemary also presented the idea that perhaps higher education institutions can some day provide resources to students to help them integrate the experiences they had in different cultures – maybe in the form of support services upon returning home.
Dr. Rosemary Shaver was also awarded the Diane Place Distinguished Doctoral Graduate and Dissertation Award for her research. The award was created in honor of Diane Place, a Wilkes University student who fought brain cancer while completing her research at Wilkes University. The criteria for the award is:
PERSEVERANCE in completing the doctoral study
COMMITMENT to lifelong learning
RESILIENCE in the face of adversity
STRENGTH OF CHARACTER to advance In life through education
COLLEGIALITY with peers
LEADERSHIP in education
EXCELLENCE in academic standing
Great work, Dr. Rosemary Shaver!