Reflections of an Applied Learner: Lives for Others

April 29, 2010

bookFor a college that is so strongly committed to the notion of service, how often do we, the students, actually stop to think about, “What is service?” or “How is service connected to conceptions of leadership?” or, “How can service do harm?” Offered for the first time at Rollins College, the course “Lives for Others” explores these questions among many others through an open forum of discussion.

When G-Dog and the Homeboys by Celeste Fremon was chosen for the 2009 summer reading experience, Assistant Professor of Spanish Gabriel Barreneche had a vision of engaging first-year students in service. Associate Professor of Chemistry Pedro Bernal had been taking students to the Dominican Republic for the past few years to work alongside residents of rural communities on various community development initiatives. In partnership with the Offices of Community Engagement and Rollins Explorations, this service-learning opportunity was created to engage students in the community and put reading into action by blending these two experiences. 

During our weekly sessions in the course “Lives of Others,” we were exposed to the lives of a number of extraordinary individuals. Among those studied were Father Greg Boyle, Paul Farmer, Gandhi, Fannie Lou Hammer, and Nelson Mandela. The premise was that by examining the lives of individuals who have made an impact in the history of the world, we would be forced to reevaluate our own commitments to service.

One of the most inspiring moments in this class was when Gabriel Barreneche came in to share with us his own experience of service and how it shaped his thinking for the remainder of his life.

In this course, I learned that sometimes life has a plan for us which reveals itself through the opportunities that we are dealt. Reflection is the key to getting meaning from our experiences; it’s during those instances that we discover what we are truly capable of.

This course is connected to a two-credit field experience taking place this summer during which students will get to explore the nature of service through community immersion and human interactions in the Dominican Republic.  

Te read more about my other service learning courses, please visit and

Anna Montoya
Class of 2013

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