All three students were required to take a cooperative education course to complete their degrees in health-care management at Cleveland State. All three students worked in a variety of health-care settings in the Athens area for their required internships.
“Approximately 150 to 200 students participate in independent study co-op courses in a typical semester,” said Susan Webb-Curtis, director of Cooperative Education and Service-Learning. “These independent study courses are an excellent option for students seeking opportunities for real-world work experience.”
Crisp served as an intern at Life Care Center of Athens. She was able to work in a variety of different departments during her internship, including the front office, the Alzheimer’s Unit, the Activities Department and the Rehab Unit.
“I’m a people person,” said Crisp. “In that kind of environment, you have the opportunity to interact with so many people, and I loved that. I feel like I was able to take a small piece of everyone with me.”
“My experience was such a good one, and I have learned so much through this course — important job skills like writing a proper resume, how to interview, and networking. If anyone is trying to better themselves or seeking a new job in the future, this course would really help them, whether it’s required for their major or not.”
Crisp said one of the things she liked the most about her cooperative education experience was an activity that included critiquing others’ resumes during a class workshop.
“Susan Webb-Curtis asked us to choose who we would hire based on the resumes we were given. It was amazing to see that some of the most experienced people had weak resumes. We learned ways to create a resume that really highlighted our qualifications. Needless to say, I learned a lot from this course — including ways to better myself!”
Crisp stated, “Ms. Webb-Curtis really cares about students, even if they aren’t one of her students. She is always so willing to help others and has really been an inspiration to me.”
Starr completed her internship at NHC of Athens. Like Crisp, Starr was also able to work in a variety of departments.
“The people there were great and could not show me enough,” stated Starr. “I spent each week in a different department. There were some things that I was not privy to do, but I would still watch and job shadow. I was even able to cook one day,” Starr said, adding that many people have told her that she reminds them a lot of Paula Deen!
Starr said the cooperative education program was a huge learning experience for her.
Despite the fun times, there were also sad times, as well. “I read the Bible to one lady as she was dying. She did not have anyone there with her at the time, so I asked if I could read to her. So, I read to her for hours. I think it was comforting to her to hear the Bible as she was leaving this earth. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, but I did.”
Womack completed her internship at CARIS Healthcare where she assisted the activities coordinator with putting together a memorial service for those who had died during the year. She also visited McMinn Interagency Council meetings to learn more about the extensive network of resources available to assist area residents.
While the cooperative education courses focus on giving students hands-on experience and developing job skills in a wide variety of career fields, a new program at Cleveland State also has students out in the field to serve their community.
Service-learning classes have been developed to provide students with the opportunity to connect what they are learning in the classroom with service in the community. It is all part of Cleveland State’s effort to stress civic responsibility to students.
During her time at CSCC, Womack also enrolled in a service-learning course working for Wellington Place and the McMinn Senior Center to fulfill her service-learning requirements.
Womack worked in the Memory Care and the Activities Departments at Wellington Place. While at the Senior Center, she worked in a variety of departments interacting with the people there.
“I had a lot of fun. I did a little computer work, played pool with them, played cards, basically whatever they wanted me to do while I was there. I had always worked in a factory my whole life, so I had never really been able to do a lot of volunteer work; and I didn’t really know what it was all about, but now that I do. I love it!”
Womack’s service-learning opportunity really paid off because she didn’t just receive a grade from her volunteer work at the Senior Center, she also received a job because of it. Womack was recently hired as the assistant director of the McMinn Senior Center. She assists in various aspects of the center, including office work, organizing the Senior Olympics, the bake sale, chili supper, pancake breakfast, etc.
Like Womac, Starr also participated in a service-learning project. She was able to help Ann Cunningham, CSCC associate professor, with the high school student seminar titled “How To Get a Job and Keep It.”
“I helped with different aspects of the seminar,” stated Starr. “I was most like a teacher’s assistant in that I did numerous things so Ann was able to focus on the seminar, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself working with such a diverse group of students.”
Starr went on to add, “I love volunteering, so I loved both experiences. Both the co-op and service-learning have just given me this tremendous feeling. Students need to realize the importance of volunteering. Service-learning is the way to go. Sure, it looks good on your resume, but you are helping others and having fun in the meantime! My life has really been enriched by going to CSCC.”
“In my eight years in cooperative education, these ladies have been some of my most dedicated students,” stated Webb-Curtis. “I am very proud of the way they represented the college with area employers and community agencies. We have such great students that can contribute so much to the community and the workplace.”
Employers and community agencies who are interested in providing internship opportunities for Cleveland State students are encouraged to contact Webb-Curtis. For more information on the CSCC Cooperative Education and Service-Learning Department, call (423) 614-8718 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also visit the co-op website at www.clevelandstatecc.edu/academics/divisions/business_technology/cooperative_education or the service-learning website at www.clevelandstatecc.edu/service_learning/.