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GVSU Women's Community Collaborative

The Women's Community Collaborative (WCC) is a comprehensive service learning partnership between the Women and Gender Studies Program, the GVSU Women's Center, and a number of community non-profit organizations which provide services to women and/or children.  The program is in its sixth year, and recently received the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) silver medal award for its achievement in creating high-impact learning experiences for students.

WCC students enroll in a 3-credit class (WGS 492), taught by Women and Gender Studies faculty member Dr. Julia Mason, in which they learn about nonprofit management and feminist leadership theory.  Internship coordinator and Associate Director of the GVSU Women's Center Jo Ann Wassenaar conducts interest interviews with each WCC student, and places students at internship sites that best match their interests and working styles.  Reflection-based discussions in class sessions encourage students to engage with each other to identify areas of similarity and difference between their respective internship sites and to recognize how concepts from class readings and discussions apply to practice in the field.

Each WCC student works with her or his organization supervisor to develop learning goals and outcomes, as well as job expectations and responsibilities.  The collaborative nature of the this process helps to ensure that the over-arching learning outcomes of the course are personalized to meet the needs and interests of the student and community organization.  Many WCC partner agencies have been involved with the program for several years, and as such have a shared understanding of the goals and intentions of the program.  This continuity of intern involvement is also beneficial to partner organizations, as they know they can depend upon a quality internship student each year.  Jo Ann Wassenaar continues to provide training and orientation for intern supervisors, and maintains contact with these individuals throughout the course of the internship program to monitor the progress of WCC interns.

The WCC program has benefitted students and community partner organizations alike.  Since the program began in 2005, WCC students have contributed over 6,000 hours of service to community organizations.  The internship experience has yielded tangible benefits for students, as many have gone on to continued employment with their internship sites, and others have translated their internship experiences to AmeriCorps national service terms or graduate study in related fields.  For many students, the WCC program has represented a "transformational experience" which has given them direction and motivation which has shaped the remainder of their undergraduate studies, as well as their future endeavors.

 

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