Dozens of CU students to display service learning projects on April 25

Published: April 22, 2011

University of Colorado Boulder senior Kendra Stone spent part of the past semester in one of her classes tutoring Boulder High students, some of whom were struggling in the classroom due to a language barrier, while others were excelling but needed to overcome other obstacles.

Stone, a senior molecular, cellular and developmental biology major, is one of dozens of CU-Boulder students who will have booths at an event highlighting local service learning projects they completed this spring as part of the Program for Writing and Rhetoric's "Writing Initiative for Service and Engagement" project.

The free, public event will be held Monday, April 25, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the University Memorial Center, room 235. Anne K. Heinz, associate vice-chancellor for outreach and engagement, will give the keynote address.

"During the semester, I helped students with biology papers who were explaining complicated processes, while also helping students who could barely speak English write simple essays," Stone said. "Throughout this experience I gained a deeper appreciation of the education I have received. It also has motivated me to keep furthering myself and to keep giving back as well."

Each semester about 350 CU-Boulder students participate in community-based writing courses through the Program for Writing and Rhetoric, contributing well over 5,000 hours of their time to local community and nonprofit organizations, according to CU-Boulder Senior Instructor Sally Green, who teaches a course that partners her students with Arapahoe Ridge High School and Boulder High School students.

"This experience gives students the opportunity to develop and apply their communication skills in authentic contexts," Green said. "They complete valuable projects for their community partners and gain an understanding of social, environmental and economic issues which informs their entire college education."

In Green's service learning class, "Writing on Science and Society," her students tutor Boulder at-risk high school students in math and science for a total of 15 hours throughout the semester.

"They bring their own recent experience as high school students and their expertise and enthusiasm about their subjects to the tutoring experience," Green said.

Students who take Program for Writing and Rhetoric service-learning courses learn about a number of issues including sustainability, food, education, the elderly, poverty and hunger while gaining practical experience in grant writing and document design. They also work with an array of organizations: schools and afterschool programs, community gardens, homeless shelters, organic farms, food banks and Boulder Parks and Recreation.

"Through the coursework, we want students to gain an understanding of a social issue, community dynamics, problem solving and written advocacy," Green said.

After graduation on May 6, Stone will work as a research technician in a campus laboratory. She then plans to apply for medical school, with the long-term goal of being a surgeon.

More than 13,000 CU-Boulder students participate in some form of community service each year, and more than 3,500 are engaged in academic service learning, a teaching strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction. For more information about CU-Boulder's civic engagement efforts visit