When Ashley Teal, ’10, spent a semester in Kenya, she found out the brother from her host family was going to be married. She was crestfallen to find out that she wouldn’t be there for the wedding—until the brother changed the date of the wedding, just so that she could attend.
While the rest of the country is building its resources to help American college students succeed in the business world, gain experiences and change lives, Allegheny already has an organized stratagem under its belt—at least, that’s what those employed in ACCEL think.
Allegheny College Center for Experiential Learning. When someone mentions the center for career, service, and international services that’s located in Reis Hall, the primary question most students have is what the acronym stands for. And thinking about the office’s attitude, “If we don’t know you, we can’t help you,” students might get nervous to think that they don’t have clearly defined aspirations.
Most students take advantage of this office in their sophomore and junior years, when they plan taking advantage of a summer internship. But Michaeline Shuman, director of career services, thinks this is a common mistake.
“We randomly surveyed 100 students,” she said. “And most don’t understand that they don’t have to have a specific reason to come in—they think they are all set. The earlier they come, the better it is.”
Students can build a resumé and go to the “Resumé Doctor,” and get connected with Alum on Gator Locator, a knock-off of Linkedin solely for Allegheny graduates and current students. These are opportunities students will discover in ACCEL.
A main benefit of ACCEL is convenience. Since most students in their first few years don’t know what’s going to help them in the future the most, the programs feed off of each other to work with the student.
“We are embedded in the center of experiential learning,” Shuman said. Experiential learning is just what it sounds like—learning through the experiences gained. “The students’ files will contain their resumes, community service, and travels all on one log.”
Jenny Kawata, director international services, refers to it as “cohabitating as well as collaborating.”
Besides the strings of catch phrases ACCEL utilizes, among them “don’t wait to be great,” they plan activities to interact with the students and let them know their purpose. For instance, international students studying at Allegheny host a dinner every November, where students get to try foods from around the world. About 250 people attend every year.
In addition to study abroad, EL travel seminars, and Alumni-connecting, about a fourth of the school participates in the annual “Make a Difference Day” service projects. “Service projects differ in expertise, but everything offers students experiences that help them reflect on what they learn here.” Dave Roncolato, service learning director claims.
Most employees of ACCEL admit that it is difficult to keep up with the demand of the students. But with a well-established base, they plan on growing from there. They present it as a sort of prism—the students and ideas and experiences go into the prism, and out comes a spectrum of the people they have become. They even have a glass prism sitting in their offices, so they never neglect that notion as they continue to help students in the upcoming years.