By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer
During the Fall 2015 semester, Kim Gill enrolled in classes at KCC to pursue a nursing degree after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2012. At the time, the then 24-year-old was taking prerequisites in health sciences.
Of those classes, Gill attended a Zoology 141 course, which she discovered that she could do a service-learning project for extra credit through her professor. Students who are interested in doing service-learning can only do so if they are enrolled in a sustainability designated course. Though she admitted that she took advantage of that opportunity for the benefit of having volunteer work addressed on her résumé, Gill said that her time spent during her project made her realize that she wanted to work in higher education.
Curious to learn more about service-learning since it wasn’t offered at UCSB, Gill got in touch with the Kapiʻolani Service & Sustainability Learning Program (KS&SLP) on campus to apply. The program, which is directed by Dr. Bob Franco, has been active since 1990 and is continuing to reach out to students to promote sustainability and demonstrate how it can make a difference within the community and for the future.
“The only way to learn about sustainability is to — yes, be in the classroom, study climate change, study botany, study economics — and then go out there and do it, and see what the solutions really look like on the ground,” said Krista Hiser, a KCC English professor and faculty of the Office of Sustainability at UH Mānoa.
Gill went through a process, that all service-learning students must go through, which includes having to attend both an orientation (either online or in person) and a community partner fair, submitting her registration, and having to serve a minimum of 20 hours.
The deadline to apply for the 2017 Summer session for KS&SLP is July 17. The deadline for the Fall 2017 semester is to be announced.
She recalled that having to find a community partner was challenging, being that there are about 50 community partners that KS&SLP networks with to allow students a variety of pathways to choose from.
Her initial intention was to complete her service-learning project based on working with kūpuna at the Leʻāhi Hospital, however, the time that it would have taken to be interviewed and have a background check done would have resulted in an overdue project. Alternatively, Gill turned to the Health Promotion Team on campus that was previously run by Mia Melamed.
Subsequently, after attending an orientation to become a part of the team, Gill found herself attending weekly workshops through the Health Promotion Team, planning events, creating posters and flyers, and more.
Coordinating with the Blood Bank of Hawaiʻi, Gill also facilitated blood banks held on campus along with several other healthy initiative events throughout the semester while implementing sustainable development goals that were developed by the United Nations to transform the world.
Of the 17 goals that focus on promoting sustainability into daily lives, Gill was able to apply the third goal: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, to most of her service-learning.
As an aspiring nurse practitioner, Gill recognized through her service-learning that she was making a difference in serving community issues. She stated that only about 2% of Hawaiʻi’s population donates blood, yet more than half of the population will be in critical need for a blood transfusion.
“When I get my nurse practitioner degree, now I want to work in student health … and inspire young people to be healthy and establish the healthy habits that are going to lay the foundation for a really long, sustainable, vital life,” Gill said.
By the end of her Fall semester, Gill was offered to become the Health Promotion Team leader, to which she immediately jumped at the opportunity. Now at the age of 26, Gill has about 20 students who work underneath her through the KS&SLP. She shared that if she could, she would do service-learning again being that it gave her a chance to feel connected with the campus.
“[KS&SLP is] a great resume booster, it’s a great opportunity to figure out what you think you want to do … it’s a great way to feel like you’re making a difference in the world … those were the main reasons why I did it,” Gill said.