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Service learning project gives UC student opportunity to give back

"Working at Santa Maria has had a huge impact on me personally"

By Keshav Vinod

As a child, Andie Anderson routinely helped out as a volunteer for non-profit organizations.

That tradition of contributing to her communinty developed into a passion for service while she was a UC student working at Santa Maria Community Services, an experience that broadened her education and connected her to the needs and struggles of the Hispanic community in Cincinnati.

A recent graduate of UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, with a double-major in Spanish and International Affairs, Anderson volunteered with Santa Maria as part of a service learning program offered through her Spanish class.

Price Hill-based Santa Maria Community Services advocates for families’ education, financial, and health goals. The non-profit has provided various tools and resources to over 4,000 individuals to help build strong families and foster neighborhood revitalization. To help individuals prepare the necessary documents before visiting, Anderson created an instructional video detailing information about the services offered by Santa Maria.

“The goal of the video is to help the clients better understand the different services offered and what they will need for each service, such as an ID and a witness to notarize an income verification form for a clinic,” said Anderson. “The video is in both Spanish and English, and it’s shown in a loop on the television monitors in the lobby area.”

Service learning opportunities at UC give students the chance to learn outside the classroom, making contributions that have real impact in the community, for course credit. The service learning component of education at UC supports the university’s Urban Futures Initiative, a part of its new strategic direction Next Lives Here.

Recent A&S graduate Andie Anderson with her diploma.

Recent A&S graduate Andie Anderson with her diploma.

Toward the end of her stint with Santa Maria, Anderson became aware of the organization’s need for a new volunteer notary public. So she studied for and passed the notary exam, and continued to work at Santa Maria providing free notary services.

“Working at Santa Maria has had a huge impact on me personally,” she said. “When I first started volunteering there … I had no idea I would be working there a year later,” said Anderson. “I have loved working directly with the clients who come into the office, and I have learned so much from each of them.”

Anderson says that Santa Maria Community Services has given her just as much--if not more, than she's given them, and she looks forward to continuing volunteering there. 

Andie Anderson’s story is one in a series about service learning opportunities and student community involvement through UC’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Featured image at top: Clinic waiting room. Credit: Paul Christian Glenn from Pixabay.