Service Learning at Oakton
In 1997, Oakton received a three-year grant, “Broadening Horizons Through Service Learning,” from the Association of American Community Colleges. For the past decade, the College has continued to partner with the AACC on civic engagement initiatives.
Oakton’s program now includes faculty participation across the College and engages approximately 500 students each year. In a recent survey, 90 percent of the students participating in service learning indicated they would recommend the program to other students.
Khulan Tsogbayar, a certified nursing assistant and Oakton student, spends her Wednesday afternoons delivering meals to home-bound Skokie residents. Started as a class assignment, Tsogbayar’s participation with the Village of Skokie Meals on Wheels program continues even after the semester ended. She provides lunch to a number of seniors who want to maintain their independence, but who are unable to prepare their own meals. Tsogbayar gathers prepared foods from North Shore Hospital, makes home deliveries with the food, and assists the residents with the meal if necessary. Providing seniors with their lunches makes her so proud, because she sees how one little gesture can make such a big difference. For Tsogbayar it is about more than just delivering food. She loves being able to bring a little joy to others.
For students in Jody Padar’s spring accounting classes, learning extends far beyond the classroom. In addition to the normal course work, Padar encourages her accounting students to volunteer at least two Saturdays with Ladder Up, a nonprofit organization committed to helping low-income families become financially stable. Ladder Up provides assistance in completing tax returns, applying for financial aid, and opening bank accounts. Besides the opportunity to help others, volunteers also gain invaluable experience in accounting, finance, and customer service.