Learning Communities The Freshman Experience Winona Scheff

Justice of the First Year Program

What is the First Year Program?

A View From Learning Community 12

At Wagner College, each freshman is put into a first year program that tends to focus on a specific idea. Your first year program is your learning community, in which you have three classes that are inter-connected. Two of the classes are most times from different subjects, for example an English class paired with a political science class. The third class is co-taught by the professors of the other two classes, combining the material into a cohesive Reflective Tutorial. For me, I was placed in Learning Community 12: Justice in an Unjust World. My first class was an English class that focused on race and music within culture. My other class was Intro to Political Science, where the question “How should one govern himself?” was the main topic. The RFT brought both of my professors together, combining morality and justice with race and culture. We focused on a memoir about a Liberian girl, Helene Cooper, learning how to write, research, and work at a collegiate level. Through my Learning Community, I was required to complete 20 hours of community service. I know you’re probably asking why community service requirements wasn’t left behind in high school. However, it has been a wonderful part of my freshmen experience.

Ten of my LC’s twenty required hours are organized for us. We were lucky enough to visit Empowerment Zone a few days a week, an after school program for the children of Park Hill. We help them with their homework, building connections with the children. Once their homework is done, we play with them, whether it is board games or computer games, dance battles or rap battles. Getting off campus, hanging with completely innocent individuals has really helped keep everything in perspective throughout one of the hardest transitions of a person’s life. The impact us college students have on the little kids at Empowerment Zone is far larger than we can see. We become a break from their reality, a role model to strive higher. Through touching the lives of these innocent kids, we also gain different insight on the world around us. These outside of the classroom hours provide opportunities to better our community while bettering ourselves. We become more cultured, learning and experiencing more than someone would at a school of 10,000 because of the personal connections you get to make.

The other ten hours are made up of events that fit into our schedule. We are given the flexibility of when to complete these hours because professors understand the complicated schedules as a student. One of the possible chances to complete your outside of the classroom hours for my learning community included the International Film Festival put on by the program here at our school. I was able to attend one of the films, whAfrican Burial Groundich told the story of Italian immigrants. Visiting the African Burial Ground in Manhattan and attending the Trojan Women Play put on by our theater department were other events that all relate back to the theme of my learning community.

It was really cool coming to college and realizing how interconnected everything is without necessarily meaning to be. In high school, math was math and history was history. There was never a cohesiveness that seemed prevalent to today. Wagner College’s first year program really demonstrates the amazing aspects of collegiate learning, bringing all subjects together to focus on themes that are important and interesting to their students.