Benefits of Service Engagement for Graduate School and Career

Benefits of Service Engagement for Graduate School and Career

By Ann Tobin

Campus/Community Service-Learning Liaison

IU East Center for Service-Learning


In fall 2016, IU East senior Kurtis Bonner tutored middle school students at IU East, and he continues to help students at Hagerstown Elementary (HES), working in math classrooms and doing individual tutoring. The teachers at HES have reported their appreciation for Kurtis’ help in the classroom. “Kurt was very reliable and helpful. He is always willing to jump in and help out students…” – Amanda Corman, Hagerstown Elementary

Math Counts! Tutor Kurtis Bonner assists students with math at Hagerstown Elementary

Kurtis was recently accepted into Indiana State University’s DPT program (Doctorate of Physical Therapy). He will start at ISU on May 30, 2016, and it is a three year doctorate program. Kurtis said, “I talked about my service experience during the interview process and it was a big deal.”

“The question was: how have you been involved in the community and showed leadership? My response, ‘I had the privilege to work with elementary students with a program called Math Counts! I was able to help elementary students better understand math through individual and group tutoring.”

When Kurtis was asked if service enhanced his interview and his acceptance into grad school, Kurtis said, “service definitely enhanced the entirety of the process for graduate school!”


Dillon Hilderbrand was a vital participant in the new Math Counts! program, helping high school students with math and AP Chem at the Center for Service-Learning (CSL). He also helped with service to English learners in the community, with service to people with dementia (Opening Minds through Art), with students at Ivy tech, and countless other programs. Dillon graduated in May 2016, with degrees in Biology and Biochemistry. He was accepted into graduate school to pursue a Master of Science in Biology and a Biotechnology Certificate.

Dillon Hilderbrand, tutor at IU East Center for Service-Learning

Dillon Hilderbrand and partner at Opening Minds through Art

While applying for graduate schools, one university representative expressed how impressed she was with the amount of service Dillon had performed: “Upon meeting with graduate school representatives they expressed high interest in my service-learning experiences and were extremely curious to know more about how those experiences shaped my decisions and my undergraduate education.  They became a conversation starter and my graduate school advisor was extremely impressed with my interaction with the community and college campus.  She remarked that my service experience stood out and showed an aspect of involvement she rarely saw.  Overall, I can confidently say that my service-learning engagements at Indiana University East helped me in many ways when applying and getting accepted into my graduate program. “ – Dillon Hilderbrand

After Dillon’s acceptance into graduate school, he was offered a job in a lab, doing the research work he wanted to do. As an employee, he recently reported that his employer was excited by his interest in volunteering in the community through the company.

Katelyn Brown

Katelyn Brown reading bilingual books with 3 friends.

“Service-learning has been one of the most influential and surprising of my experiences at IUE. I started service-learning my second semester when I developed a weekly Music Club at Girls Inc. This was a lot of fun, but when Ann Tobin, the Service-Learning Liaison, learned that I spoke Spanish, my focus in the community completely changed. As I found out later, I was the first IUE student to answer a need for Spanish-speakers at Richmond High School and at many of the local elementary schools. I tutored a variety of students who had varying levels of English language skills and helped them improve those skills as well as encouraged them to retain their Spanish language, which is often lost to these students.”

Katelyn Brown (left) tutoring a student at the Summer Tutoring Program at IU East.

“One of my most significant program involvements has been as the student coordinator with the creation of the Summer Tutoring program for my Honors Senior Thesis Project, designing and implementing this successful academic outreach. Along with other IUE students, I have tutored students and I have mentored students in this community, encouraging their bilingualism, their continued education, providing them with a model of a successful college student… Another project in which I was honored to play a leadership role, was Los Lobos Rojos Escriben (Red Wolves Write), a component of the Latino Americans Project, which involved capturing stories by Latino community members through interviews. We’ve interviewed several people, like Pam Zelaya of Paz en Casa, who told me of the many challenges faced by Latina women.” – Katelyn Brown

Katelyn Brown, IU East graduate, May 2016

Katelyn graduated in May 2016, completing all of the requirements for the IU East Honors Program, the LEADS Program, receiving the award for Outstanding Student in Biochemistry. In the fall 2016, she completed a BA degree in Spanish. Katelyn attributes her acceptance into the Indiana University School of Dentistry to her extensive service-learning experiences. She plans to be a bilingual dentist, serving people who have difficulty accessing basic services due to a language barrier, and she attributes the development of these plans to her service experiences with the Latina/o community.

McKenna Marshall graduated from IU East in May 2016, with a degree in biology and plans to go on to veterinarian school. At IU East, McKenna served at Girls Inc, mentoring and helping with their girl-empowering programs, and designing a presentation on becoming a vet. McKenna was also one of the valued partners at Opening Minds through Art, a program which promotes creative self-expression for people with dementia.

McKenna Marshall and OMA partner

McKenna Marshall and friends at Girls Inc.

“For me, I do service because I feel like I am making a difference in someone else’s life…It has taught me to slow down in life and appreciate the small things, like the joy on my OMA partner’s face when someone tells her they love her painting.” – McKenna Marshall

Recently, McKenna sent us an update: “Service learning through IU East gave me not only wonderful memories through the relationships that I formed in programs like Opening Minds through Art and Girls, Inc. but it also gave me community service experiences to talk about on my Veterinary School application. Ultimately, I was accepted to two veterinary schools, and I give a huge thanks to the Service Learning department for helping me achieve that!”

Hope Peer


Hope Peer (right) and friend at Just Us Kids Outside (JUKO)

 Hope Peer is a May 2016 IU East graduate, with a degree in Psychology. Due to her years of extensive service with the IU East Center for Service-Learning, Hope received the Student Service Award at the Honors Convocation. She participated in countless service programs, including Opening Minds through Art (OMA), Mentoring at the Hibberd Early College Academy, the Grassroots Action Resource Center, Just Us Kids Outdoors (JUKO), Women in Transition (WIT House), the IU East K-12 Summer Tutoring Program, and Centerstone (a community-based behavioral healthcare service). Upon graduation, Hope was offered a position at Centerstone!

“Through her work experience, Hope was not only able to assist the team with both large and small topics that we otherwise have not had the time for, but she also had many learning opportunities to confirm her future career interests. As a result of her exceptional interest, motivation, and efforts, she has been offered a full-time position with the company following graduation.” – Amanda Corder of Centerstone

Hope Peer (in red) with Women in Transition (WIT) at a community garden

“I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunities I’ve had in service-learning, and to have worked with a great group here on campus committed to giving me as rich of a service experience as I wanted. I have been able to do so many different things through service learning, and it has helped me get one step closer to a career. I highly recommend that people get involved on campus, but particularly with service learning. Through service learning I have learned so much about others, my community, and myself.” – Hope Peer

Comments are closed.