The first year of university means different things to each of us. For some, it’s a new start. For others, it offers a second chance, or a glimpse of the future. For Mélissa Langlois, a criminology student from Quebec City, it was the start of a new adventure. It was mainly the quality and reputation of the criminology program that drew Mélissa to the University of Ottawa.
In her second session, Mélissa took the Introduction à la politique canadienne course to broaden her knowledge. In this class, she had to choose between writing a paper on Canadian politics, or enrolling in the Community Service Learning (CSL) program, which offers students volunteer opportunities linked to the material covered in class. Mélissa knew she would benefit from CSL both academically and personally. She chose a placement with ACORN Canada, a non-profit organization that helps low and moderate income families deal with political, housing and social issues. Mélissa chose a front-line placement that gave her the opportunity to work directly with the public. “My placement is very rewarding, and I’m gaining valuable experience. I don’t want to be filling my head only with what I learn in class; now I can see for myself how things work in the real world. I’m meeting new people and I like being with the public.” Plus, she says, her community service experience is a nice addition to her CV.
Mélissa’s tasks as an ACORN volunteer mostly have to do with awareness-raising and communication. She works the phones, answers information requests, creates posters and provides information about ACORN. She knows her work makes a real difference and has an impact on the community. That’s partly why she didn’t mind going from door to door in -40 oC weather!
This summer, Mélissa plans to return to Quebec City to work in the same psychiatric hospital where she first volunteered. She’ll be back in Ottawa just in time to start her second year at the University. She’d like to take another class where CSL is offered or volunteer with an organization in her field through CGCE’s Extracurricular Volunteering program.
Article written by Isabelle Giroux is a placement officer at the Centre for Global and Community Service. She met with Mélissa Langlois at the ACORN office on March 22, 2013.