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By Candice Sakuda, MEA, Director of Service-Learning, Chaminade University of Honolulu

Service-Learning emphasizes the formal connection between meaningful service and the academic learning objectives in a particular course. As a pedagogy, service-learning emerges from experiential learning theory and encourages active student involvement in the learning process.

At a Service-Learning Reflection Workshop years ago, Accounting Professor Richard Kido wondered if anyone was helping Chaminade University’s public school partners in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for monies for college education.

Richard called Marketing Professor Peggy Friedman (MEA) to utilize her students’ specialized skills for a critical piece in the development of a new project; a marketing strategy was needed for their target clients – high-schoolers who were not aware of college as a viable option. Candice Sakuda, Service-Learning Director, researched resources and made some connections with partners in the community.

A meeting of Richard, Peggy, and Candice brought all the pieces together, and the FAFSA service-learning project was born. Chaminade students in higher level accounting classes were already involved in a service-learning project filing tax returns for the poor, and lower level students could gain experience for that project by helping families with the FAFSA.

The students from the accounting and marketing classes worked together, combining a meeting for brainstorming with discussions of the strategies and the cultural/socioeconomic factors in play. Many of the students shared reflections on how they related to the clients through their own life experiences.

There was a real sense of community that grew within each class and across the classes as well. Although the relationships that were arranged through the program were one-on-one, accounting student with client/family, all of the students worked together to provide quality service, with the supervision and guidance of their professors. With requests coming from more high schools for similar aid, the project has been an ongoing success.