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Student Success Stories

Watch Student Testimonies about their Service Learning

Watch Sam's testimony about her service learning experience in the Fall of 2020 with the CSUSM Dreamer Resource Office

Watch Teddy's testimony about his service learning experience in the Spring of 2021 with the ProduceGood.

More Testimonies from Service Learning Students

  • Operation HOPE - North County

    The service-learning program is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience with organizations that serve our community. This experience is a great way to bolster your resume, network with organization leaders, and learn creative ways to help our community. In my experiences, the service-learning courses have provided a space to apply my newfound knowledge to the real world, and it helped me land my first job out of college!  10/10 would recommend to a friend.

  • Poway Unified School District

    The experience I had on completing my service learning project was something out of the ordinary and new. In the beginning, I believed it would be very hard to complete my educational material since I wasn’t able to meet my mentor in person and find other resources from other schools and such but once I started, it was something that I really enjoyed doing. Working with my mentor, Hilary Cuevas from Poway Unified School District was such a wonderful experience and I learned a great number of things when it came to mental health awareness and how to approach students who are in need and have. Although it was something completely different being strictly online and working virtually, I wouldn’t change anything. I’m hoping that the workbook I created could help bring more awareness to mental illnesses in our youth and help them come to terms with their emotions.

  • City of Carlsbad, Habitat Management

    I think the whole project was a success. The work we did was impactful and fulfilling. We got to go in the field and learn hands on about habitat management. Our opinions were considered when deciding crucial steps. I learned to look twice at jobs that don’t sound appealing. I learned the value of trying to change the community’s perceptions to better the world. I also learned a handful of tangible work skills that I can use for a future career.

    The positive takeaway is that a small change to certain habits can help the environment. Service learning was an opportunity to apply concepts of sustainable land management from class in the real world. It takes waste management, an unglamorous topic, and makes it personal.

  • CSUSM Veterans' Center

    The biggest takeaway I had from the experience was to get involved and hear from different people's point of view on certain problems and solutions. Adding someone else's different narrative not only adds some form of respect amongst each other but also adds to the over story where small acts, have big impacts (Mann 2016). Furthermore, being able to not only connect with a group of peers makes me want to further awareness on making sustainability the first choice when looking for energy advances. It also falls in line with what most of our topics are in class which is sustainable resource management, greener solutions for everyday human activities and furthering the technology to minimizing human impact on our planet while raising the quality of life for everyone. The next step in this story is that I will be continuing to help the current project leads as it helps me personally by getting me more involved with the school rather than feeling like an outsider

    - Peters 2015

  • Wild COAST

    Volunteering is a very beneficial experience that can help increase one’s knowledge and teach life lessons along the way. I would make sure that my volunteers know that volunteering is not going to be easy. As a volunteer, you are going to have to spend your time doing work that you might not always want to do. It is important to make sure that you are always trying your hardest because volunteering is a great networking opportunity. Not only can you establish new relationships, but you can potentially come across future job opportunities.

    When I helped clean the slough, I found hundreds of pieces of plastic, cigarette butts, glass, and just about any waste product you could think of. I hoped that at the end of the day I would leave the beach spotless. I soon realized that this was way out of my ability. If there is going to be a change, we need to get everybody on board to try and keep our planet clean.

  • CSUSM ASI Cougar Pantry

    I will continue to volunteer next semester at the site in order to help the students out and to help the site grow as well. I fell in love with the process of helping out the people and setting everything up for them to come and get their things. It is almost like working at a grocery store just greeting and taking care of people which is a rewarding experience.

    Working at the food pantry on campus allowed me to meet so many people. The people coming through were my fellow peers that I saw on a daily basis, but never interacted with. Volunteering here has allowed me to make eye contact with them, say hello and sometimes have a small conversation with them. I also see such a diverse array of people coming through, and it surprised me at first. As embarrassing as this sounds, I think we can sometimes have a picture painted in our head of what someone struggling with food insecurity should look like, so I was often shocked when I would see someone outside of my ignorance coming in for help. After I realized my lack of knowledge on what food insecurity looked like, I began to lose my stereotypes and I changed my judgements.

    Volunteering at a site that helps your fellow peers and yourself is one that is very rewarding. I’ve learned so much of about the environmental issues that arise from food production and student health. I enjoyed volunteering at the pantry and think I’d like to continue volunteering there next semester. I’ve met many people who I enjoy talking to and wish to continue those friendships next semester. Surprisingly, this site has also helped me tap into a newfound interest of mine; Public Health and Food Access. I never thought that this could be an interest of mine, but it is, and I am happy about that.

    Overall, I really enjoyed participating with the team members of Cougar Pantry and plan on doing it until the end of the semester. I was able to participate within my community by encouraging sustainability, this way I was able to see if I was still interested in my major of Environmental Studies. I plan to stick with my major because this was such a positive experience.

    I went into the cougar pantry knowing little to almost nothing about their purpose. I also had no expectations or much knowledge about who they were and what they did. However, as I volunteered throughout the months, I found hope the site positively impacted students within their day to day lives. Even though I was one person among the many volunteers and workers they had, I made a difference in many people’s lives by helping when I could. Even though I came into my site not knowing much, I left with more knowledge and even a new interest in the world of food security.

    The Cougar Pantry specialist made a strong impression on me because of how helpful and positive she was all the time. Her friendliness to all the volunteers and students, as well as the excitement for the program, made it fun to be at the site every time. I feel like her personality really brought all the volunteers together and made everyone get to know each other better. She also made a good impression on me as a leader because she was willing to listen to all the ideas of the volunteers. She wanted to incorporate all of the suggestions we had for Cougar Pantry so she took our ideas to the program leaders to see if they could be implemented. In this way, I felt encouraged by her that my ideas could really make a difference at Cougar Pantry.

  • Surfrider Foundation

    The concern and motivation from local communities towards beach conservation flabbergasted me. Every weekend there were around 200 people that came out to the various San Diego beaches to help clean up the discarded litter. People of all demographics were coming out together to clean the beaches because they saw the conditions that people left them and wanted to make a difference. It was amazing to see so many local community members join together and come out every week to clean up discarded trash off the beaches.

    The San Diego chapter manager, was an active and supportive leader throughout my time with Surfrider. During the Paddle for Clean Water event (Surfrider Foundation), I saw him [SD Chapter Manager] actively thanking everyone for coming to support the event, answering questions, talking with the press, and ensuring the event was running smoothly. His ability to multitask while keeping a positive and friendly demeanor added to my attitude and helped me overcome my timidness while volunteering during the event.

    While volunteering during Paddle for Clean Water (Surfrider Foundation), it was astonishing to see so many people come to the event in support of ocean and beach conservation. The commitment and support of local community members all across San Diego County shows that if we come together as a whole, we can make a significant impact towards sustaining a positive future. People may think that a single person cannot make a difference, but on this day a community of people came out to show that we can make a significant impact if we do it together.

    A person that has made a strong impression on me was The San Diego chapter manager. The San Diego chapter manager has taught me that sustainable living and caring about the ocean is extremely important. He makes a positive difference in our oceans and coastal preservation. He encourages me to clean up trash on our coasts and think of innovative ways to use products that don’t hurt the environment. We had an event called “Paddle For Clean Water” that he hosted and organized himself and it was truly amazing and eye-opening to see the impact that he had on the participants to help achieve clean water.

  • Produce Good

    The positive takeaway for my story is that you should volunteer for an organization that you are genuinely interested in. I did that, and because I volunteered for a cause that I found meaningful, I kept an open mind about learning new things. It was awesome to connect what I learned in class to the work that ProduceGood does. The cause is so great, and so are the people, and I really feel that I want to continue volunteering for this organization even after completing my service hours for school. Working with them has given me and improved outlook on life.

    Meeting others who are passionate about volunteering their time truly has been inspiring, and has influenced me to continue volunteering for this organization.

  • Agua Hediona Lagoon Foundation

    Overall I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience at Agua Hedionda as I have gained new insights into the area and I have realized the importance of places like the lagoon as well as how delicate they are. I have seen first hand the effects of urbanization and pollution which are major factors affecting the environment which we’ve discussed in class. I have had a great experience as a trail captain at Agua Hedionda and I will be continuing my work for the foreseeable future. I would strongly recommend to everyone that they get involved in a similar way whether you are volunteering for a few hours or a few days every bit helps and it is an amazing experience. As you get to work with great, friendly people in a beautiful area that really needs your help.

    Also the manager at Agua Hedionda, made a long-lasting impression on me because she really showed her appreciation for the volunteers who were focused on their duties at the center.

    Some of my successes while volunteering at this organization is that I found other volunteers that I’ve developed friendships with along with discovering a beautiful, new organization that I will be returning for a visit.

    The positive takeaway from this site, is that there’s easy hands on activism that you can do locally. For someone like me who cares passionately about our natural resources, and how we can protect the wildlife that lives among it, Agua Hedionda was a fantastic site to work at, and I’m glad for the opportunity. I plan on continuing to volunteer at my site for some time.

    When I walked into this class during the first week of the semester and heard that there was an assigned service learning portion, I was excited. I’ve always wanted to look for another way to contribute to the environment, and the opportunity was presented to me in this class. When it came to choosing a site, there were many options. I was drawn to AHLF because I liked the idea of working near the water and being surrounded by plants and animals

  • CSUSM Commuter Services

    I am going to try and find more resources available on campus that benefit myself and the planet together and become more involved. For my site, they keep creating more resources and ways for students and the campus to come together in a sustainable way through transportation. I would say to walk into the Parking and Commuter Office and ask to speak with Kelly Steele, you will not be disappointed.

  • BCK Programs, LLC

    I went into the service learning with the conception that I was already very educated on this topic but I ended up learning so much about SWPPP Internship Program. Listening to the instructors explain SWPPP to fifth and sixth graders allowed me to grasp the basic concepts of SWPPP that blew over my head during my internship. It’s easy to forget about the basic concepts and I’m grateful that this experience allowed me to develop a strong educational foundation. I went into service learning hoping for a new perspective on my outside work, BCK programs not only gave me a new perspective on SWPPP, but so much hope for our environments health. I believe the students coming out of the internship will make a difference in our environment.

  • North County Climate Alliance

    I learned so much about climate change, I felt as if I immersed myself into a community of people, climate activists, that I had never been around before and that alone taught me a lot. I learned about how our daily lives impact environment and what those issues look like. The monthly speakers, such as scientists, climatologists, renewable energy experts, various project planners and activists, provide information on a wide range of subjects pertaining to climate change, how it impacts us in North County, and steps that are being taken to improve or change policies or the way we simply live.

    - Sedio, 2019

  • Ecolife

    All the employees, Service Learners, and volunteers that I have had the pleasure of working alongside have been super nice and always welcoming. I would say that ECOLife has a more relaxed work environment which makes it easier to work and help out. Every time I am sitting down to help seed and plant I always have a good conversation with whoever is working with me and it usually includes techniques on how to do a certain job. I think it is important to be comfortable with your work, and working with ECOLife so far I have had really great mentors guide me through all the steps of seeding, harvesting, pollination (without bees), and just all around regular aquaponic needs.

    Right when I met Martin, one of the employees that works with the greenhouse, I instantly had higher expectations. He seemed so motivated and proud of the work that ECOLife does that it made me really excited that I was going to learn something important from this organization.