Undergraduates in Dr. Lisa Lu’s transformational learning class in Human Neuropsychology had the unique opportunity to take the information they were learning in the classroom and apply it in the community by helping people with brain injuries, such as strokes or as a result of accidents. Amina Avion and Melissa Trejo, both seniors at Roosevelt, completed their service learning projects for Psychology 350 at the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse and Victory Center, a supportive living community.
Asked whether this service learning class was rewarding, Avion said, “Definitely.” She explained that she has taken a number of transformational service learning classes while at Roosevelt and she finds them to be a “really enjoyable experience.” She said that these courses not only give students the opportunity to integrate activity with knowledge, but they also offer students experiences that help them decide if a field holds promise for a career. Trejo added that transformational learning classes are, “a perfect opportunity to test the waters. It can help you decide what you really want to do.” The service learning component offered them more than the coursework alone; working with people showed them deeper levels of the subject matter and the applications of what they were learning.
This class was more time consuming than their others, but it did not keep Trejo or Avion from finding the experience worthwhile for a number of reasons. First, transformational learning gave them the opportunity to give back to others. Avion said she never would have interacted with the people at her site or those with such difficulties, but this transformational learning class provided her with the opportunity. Trejo found the experience to be eye-opening. She said, “This enhances you as a person.” Both students emphasized that transformational learning classes help develop time management skills, teach responsibility, and promote commitment because people depend on the students to be there. Service learning not only helped these students grow academically, but also professionally and personally.
Transformational learning classes are not without their difficulties, however. Psychology 350 involved a 20-hour service learning component in addition to classroom time. This process involved searching for a site, making sure it was appropriate for the class, and background checks. Despite these challenges, Trejo advises, “Go for it!” Trejo and Avion encouraged others should follow in their footsteps. These types of classes not only apply to psychology, but experience in the world is important regardless of the discipline. Avion closed with her sentiments about how transformational learning should be a part of every college’s curriculum. She did not just spend the semester learning neuropsychology; she learned much more about others and about herself.