Natalie Jolly has been exceptionally successful in paring University students with local community organizations through her multiple service learning educational endeavors. Over the course of the past year, she has worked tirelessly to see that the numerous resources attached to the University meet local community needs. In the past, there had been little transfer between the University and the community, particularly in the nonprofit sector. Jolly has done quite a bit to address this gap and inspire other faculty to follow her lead.
Her students have come to the project initially hesitant to engage issues of poverty, HIV/AIDS and women health, but become inspired to make changes in there community and build a better world. Moreover, her work has inspired a number of reticent students to take up the mantle of service work even after their assignment has concluded. In fact, several students have joined the ranks of volunteer staff after enjoying their service assignment. Jolly’s desire to facilitate this bridge between youth and community sets a foundation for future service work that is invaluable.
In addition to bringing new students into the community, Jolly’s commitment to service learning and community activism has created a network of various local agencies that do work on women’s issues in the community. In organizing a variety of projects for her classes, Jolly has stayed attentive to the surprising lack of connection between local groups doing similar work, and encourages others to become more connected. These new relationships have become an important community resource and have provided new opportunities for outreach and general support. This community network has become quite valuable, and is a wonderful byproduct of the service projects that grew out of Jolly’s vision for bridging the gap between University and community.