November 2018 Service-Learning Newsletter

Communicating the Assets of Atchison

By Ginny Steinkamp

The Mass Communications students of Dr. Kevin Page’s Senior Seminar are receiving a special opportunity to better understand and appreciate the Atchison community this semester. Students engage in service-learning projects designed with and for a variety of organizations, most of which are within the Atchison community. Dr. Kevin Page, Chair of the Mass Communications department and professor of Senior Seminar, hopes to instill confidence and help students recognize the resources in any given community. “The bigger part of it is this reflection about the value of these organizations in our community, and what role they as individual people can play in then promoting the value of these organization,” Page says. Throughout the semester, students will not only learn about a variety of resources these organizations provide, but will work with community partners to bring awareness of these assets in Atchison to the rest of the community.

Senior Mass Communications major, Alex Burris, works with the Atchison Community Health Clinic, a federally qualified health center, for the course. “A lot of people don’t know about the Atchison Community Health Clinic... They want us to get the word out around Atchison and really boost their social media.” Burris says. The team of students hopes to increase familiarity with the Atchison Community Health Clinic through a “Humans of New York” style project that Burris describes as, “We take a photo of the provider, for instance they have a dentist there. We would take a photo and include his background and schooling and say what days he’s there and put these all over social media and around town.” Students hope this project will introduce the more personal side of the clinic and why these health care professionals are passionate about the services they provide and the community they serve.

Stevie Durkin, Executive Director for the clinic, also describes the plans for a video project to be completed by the student as “We are getting ready to go into flu season. So, just having some videos to post on our social media platforms or website to educate the community on what steps they can take to stay healthy.” Durkin says, “You can tell that they come with ideas, which I like. I can kind of get bogged down in the day to day stuff that we need to do to grow as a clinic. So, to have this help from Benedictine, it has been a huge asset to us.”

Matthew Shelton, a Mass Communications student who is working with Theatre Atchison, also expresses the value he has found in this service-learning course. “I mean, classroom is almost all theory, like even when you are applying skills, it is still very theoretical and very controlled. I feel like the benefit of service learning, in that way, is that you get the experiential knowledge which is good because once you move beyond the classroom, your work in controlled settings is kind of done,” Shelton says. Matthew Shelton looks forward to this practice working with clients and working on video projects for Theatre Atchison.

Dr. Page hopes that students will learn to evaluate the resources of any community they live in, and especially appreciate the Atchison community now. “I’ve had a lot of students say, ‘Gosh, I wish I wouldn’t have waited until my senior year to kind of get out and interact in the community.’ The people of Atchison, you know, are no different than the people of any city…People are people. They are genuine people,” Page says. Undoubtedly, by working closely with a variety of incredible Atchison organizations, the Senior Seminar Mass Communications students will appreciate all that Atchison offers and endeavor to communicate the value of the resources and people they have encountered to the rest of the community.