Canada’s National Volunteer Week: A Time to Celebrate Sheridan’s Samaritans
Sheridan's student, staff and faculty volunteers experience the value of givingFor Immediate Release: April 26, 2013
Ask any number of people at Sheridan what motivates them to generously give of their time, energy and expertise and they’ll be quick to point out that when you give, you are actually the one who is gaining.
Chris Lopes, a Business Administration Accounting student who volunteers as President of the Sheridan Bruins Toastmasters Club says, "I used to be hesitant to take on new things but volunteering in this position has given me the confidence to be a leader. I’ve learned time management, event planning, networking, and many other skills that I know will be useful when I transition to the workforce. I would recommend volunteering to every student."
Putting the Learning Outcomes First
To help students like Lopes benefit even more deeply from their extra-curricular experiences, Sheridan has launched a new initiative this academic year called the CCR or Co-Curricular Record. While transcripts document students’ academic achievements, the CCR captures their outside-the-classroom activities and helps to identify the learning that takes place as a result.
"Students are often at a loss when it comes to explaining what they learned from participating in an activity," explains Christina Wiggins, the Project Lead for Sheridan’s CCR. "We wanted students to be able to approach an opportunity fully understanding what they’ll get out of it before they start the position. It helps them to be engaged and active learners."
On the CCR website, students are able to view a directory of Sheridan-supported activities that are available. Each activity has an explicit time commitment and outlines any number of 17 possible learning outcomes that will result such as professionalism, creativity, leadership, and healthy behaviour. Once validated by the activity leader, the experience gets recorded on a student’s CCR. To date, over 800 students have logged onto the site.
Helping Students to Get Involved
"Students are always looking for ways to get involved and they want to meet people outside their own programs," says Leisha Sladden-Atkinson, Sheridan’s Student Leadership & Engagement Coordinator. Through a student services website that she oversees, students can access short-term opportunities to work at educational expos, dress up as the Sheridan mascot or serve as ambassadors. "There’s no minimum time commitment – we will take whatever they are willing to give." This year, 48 students contributed 150 volunteer hours at six events.
Alumni Share Their Volunteer Stories
For alumna Safra Farouque, volunteering was a natural extension of her involvement as a Peer Mentor in the Social Service Worker program while she was a student. Farouque has volunteered as a member of a panel to discuss her experiences both as a Peer Mentor and as a new member of the workforce. Farouque credits professors Nicole Johnson, Nellie Sheppard, Nancy Reeves and Om Lamba for giving her "continuous encouragement and support, so I could venture out into the field with confidence. Volunteering provided me with great exposure to the current opportunities out in the community. It allowed me to network, learn of resources, and discover what area of the social services I wanted to pursue."
Lori Robinson, who is both a Sheridan graduate and a part-time instructor in the Faculty of Business is a long-standing volunteer on the planning committee for Sheridan’s Big Picture gala. After selling her two companies so that she could retire, Robinson picked up her part-time teaching position at the College. "I just love Sheridan. I spent some of my best years here. I volunteer because I want to give back to my community. I also love the excitement on campus. Being around the students helps me stay current."
Sheridan & Habitat for Humanity
At Sheridan’s Skills Training Centre, volunteering has manifested through a partnership with the charitable organization Habitat for Humanity. Working from a ‘train the trainer’ approach, Associate Dean Alan Reid organized some workshops for project leaders at Habitat which were held at STC, so they could upgrade their skills in plumbing, electrical work and construction. As a result of the training, the leaders were able to more effectively instruct the hundreds of volunteers they recruit to help build houses.
The Link Between Education & Volunteering
While many studies over the years have linked the attainment of postsecondary credentials to higher personal earnings or a stronger economy, an April 2013 report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) on the performance of Ontario’s postsecondary education sector also links education to social impact. The report presents data from Statistics Canada to show that higher education has a positive correlation to levels of social engagement and life satisfaction.
Sheridan College is one of Canada’s leading postsecondary institutions, offering over 100 diploma, certificate, and bachelor degree programs in an environment that fosters innovation and creativity. Its aim is to become Ontario’s first university exclusively dedicated to undergraduate professional education – a model that will be based on applied learning and Sheridan’s renown for creativity and innovation. The model also focuses on meeting university accreditation requirements so that Sheridan graduates have more pathways to the continued learning that will underscore their personal, career, and industry success.