The Service Learning Team at Middlesex County College strives to provide enriching opportunities for students by facilitating civic engagement opportunities that are tied directly back to students’ coursework. The Service Learning Team supports students, faculty, and community partners to develop and execute meaningful service learning partnerships and projects.
What is Service Learning?
Service learning is an experiential teaching method used to link course content to real-life experiences that focus on a community need or social justice issue. Simply put, service learning helps students gain knowledge by tackling problems faced in their community. Students taking service learning courses are required to complete a designated amount of volunteer service hours (typically 10-20 hours) per semester with a local, not-for-profit community partner. Students integrate their service experiences with their coursework through ongoing reflection and class assignments. Students who engage in service learning have been shown to feel more engaged with the college community, have a better understanding of the course content, and deeper insight into the social issues faced by the local community. Service learning courses are currently available through the History and Social Sciences, English, and Mathematics Departments. The college is expanding course offerings into new departments each semester, therefore service learning course offerings vary from semester to semester.
Jennifer Altman – Service Learning Faculty Coordinator
Jennifer Altman is an Associate Professor/Sociology Coordinator in the History and Social Science Department. She earned her B.A. in Sociology at Rutgers College, her M.A. in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Public Policy and Planning from Rutgers University. Her doctoral research focused on Campus-Community Partnerships and was funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. From 2009-2014, Dr. Altman served as Director of MCC’s Democracy House Center for Civic Engagement. She currently serves as Co-Director of Service-Learning at the college. Her teaching focus includes Social Problems, Social Stratification and Inequality.
Alexandra Fields – Service Learning Faculty Coordinator
Alexandra Fields is an Assistant Professor in the English Department. She also serves as the Developmental Reading Coordinator and Service Learning Coordinator. She earned her BA as a double major in English and Psychology at Rutgers University, her Ed.M in Curriculum and Instruction in the field of English from Harvard University, and she is currently working on her Ed.D in Literacy, Culture, and Language at Indiana University. As a first-generation college student, Alexandra has a passion for using education as a tool of empowerment for disenfranchised populations, and she often conducts workshops and serves in a literacy consulting capacity at schools that struggle to meet the academic needs of their students. Prior to teaching at Middlesex County College, Alexandra taught at Burlington County College as a full-time English Instructor and the Developmental English Coordinator, and she was the founding director of the college’s Bonner AmeriCorps Program. Courses currently taught include Developmental English, Developmental Reading and English Composition courses.
Arianna Illa – Coordinator of Civic Engagement and Experiential Learning
Arianna Illa is the Coordinator of Civic Engagement and Experiential Learning with the Career and Transfer Services Department. Arianna earned her B.A. in Social Work at Rutgers University, and her Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from the University of Michigan. Arianna’s graduate school practice method concentration was in Community Organization with a minor concentration in Interpersonal Practice. Arianna is an NJ State Licensed Social Worker. Arianna primarily supports service learning initiatives by developing partnerships with not-for-profit community organizations, and serving as the liaison between said partners and the campus at large. In addition to her service learning responsibilities, Arianna oversees Democracy House and the Cooperative Education/Field Experience program. Arianna believes that experiential learning is an invaluable educational tool, and is passionate about facilitating hands-on learning opportunities for students.