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Student’s Spring Break Service Project a Dual-Learning Experience

Michelle Prinzo’s spring break trip with the University Honors Program built on her own learning as she created programs to educate young children.

Date: 6/23/2008
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Provided by University Honors Program
Michelle Prinzo of Akron, Ohio spent her first spring break as a UC freshman exploring the coast of South Carolina, as part of an experience with the University Honors Program that showed students that the world is the most changing and challenging classroom.
Michelle Prinzo in South Carolina
Michelle Prinzo in South Carolina

Before she ever took off for the coast, Prinzo, a University of Cincinnati early childhood education and communication major along with her fellow classmates spent winter quarter along with her fellow classmates examining the history, culture, ecology and physical environment described in the works of popular author Pat Conroy. The honors course, led by UC professor Billie Dziech in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and Mary Fox, professor of biological sciences, challenged students to enhance a number of skills including reading, writing, critical thinking, group interaction and creativity.

With an emphasis on knowledge integration and experiential learning, the University Honors Program serves more than 1,800 students representing every undergraduate college on campus. Honors coursework and out-of-the-classroom experiences such as Prinzo’s spring break emphasize the University Honors themes of community engagement, global studies, leadership, research and creative arts.

Coastal Discovery Museum
Coastal Discovery Museum

The course, “Conroy County and the Southern Experience,” held a service-learning requirement that led students to the Coastal Discovery Museum in Hilton Head, where students worked on a heritage garden and cleaned up around the edge of the museum’s marsh and trails.

Prinzo took on an added challenge to enhance the museum’s children’s program. “As I was taking the class, I was going through all sorts of books and Web sites to create activities for children,” she says. Prinzo developed hands-on projects including arts and crafts and recipes from the Civil War era. .

Prinzo

She also created games and word searches to reflect on the themes of the Coastal Discovery Museum. “I thought the project was a good way to combine what I’m learning in my majors, apply it to my Honors experience and then tailor it more toward my educational experience,” she says, adding that her proposals were under consideration to be added for summer activities at the museum

Prinzo is a student who is dedicated to community service. She’s service chair for the University Honors Association and education chair for Colleges Against Cancer, a UC student organization dedicated to educating students and raising funds to support the fight against cancer.

She was one of nearly 200 people who took part in a simultaneous hair-cutting event at UC in May to contribute to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Campaign, which aims to cut one million inches of hair to create real-hair wigs for women battling cancer. “Once my hair was styled after the cut, I lost about 12-to-13 inches of hair,” she says. “I like it a lot.”

Prinzo

Prinzo also took part in UC’s Relay For Life last April, calling the overnight event to benefit the American Cancer Society “an amazing experience.” She is also a member of UC’s RallyCats school-spirit organization.

“I fell in love with UC the first time I came here,” she says. “UC has a great education program, it’s in a great city, and I like being at a big school with a small campus atmosphere. There are a lot of opportunities here.”

The University Honors Program has existed on campus since the 1960s when it started in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, and became available to academically talented students in all undergraduate colleges in 1991.