On The Cover
30 Years of
University debuts fresh look and feel
Service-learning shapes students
On Top Of The World
Barry pride displayed around the globe
Fall 2013, Volume 18
Learning By Doing
Hands-on experience is a fundamental component of a Barry University education
By Travis Reed
Anna Hallbergson wasn’t just a tennis star at Barry University. She was also a 4.0 pre-med/biology student, an NCAA woman of the year, and actively worked with the community in the little spare time she had left.
Now a fellow in interventional congenital cardiology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the 2000 graduate has kept similarly busy. She has written extensively in her field, was student president of her graduate school and continued to give back. Hallbergson set up a CD library at a Chicago hospital and formed an adolescent substance abuse prevention program, which used actual organs to demonstrate to children how smoking, drug abuse and alcohol damage the body.
She credits Barry for helping teach her to successfully maintain a busy, varied schedule. Her experience helps highlight the ultimate value of a Barry education: the school’s focus on promoting experiential learning and a tradition of inclusivity, social justice, knowledge and truth through individual experience.
Much of a Barry student’s education happens outside of the traditional classroom setting, and opportunities abound. When she wasn’t studying, practicing or playing tennis, Hallbergson was involved with a Big Brothers Big Sisters program organized by the school.
“You continue to try to stay somewhat balanced. It certainly helped me when I went to medical school afterwards. It just helps with time management and priorities, and knowing you can do things other than studying. You learn to interact better with people when you learn to manage your time.”
Experiential learning can be divided into three categories: internships, service learning (such as charitable cooperatives), and cooperative education (focusing on first-hand experience in trades). “It can be inside or outside the classroom, but what makes it experiential is that students have ample opportunity to think critically about what they’re doing in the field,” said Karen Callaghan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Callaghan said most of the roughly 1,600 majors in her department take at least two service learning courses, one apiece in sociology and theology, and the overwhelming majority of students in the sciences are involved in some type of faculty research. For the past three years, associate chemistry professor Zuzana Zajickova has taken undergraduate students to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., to use specialized equipment and apply lessons learned.
“Our department has state-of-the-art instrumentation. There are people coming from graduate schools who say they can’t believe some of the things we have,” Zajickova said. “But there’s always something you don’t have.”
At the national laboratory, students use expensive devices like an electron microscope and interact with scientists from around the world. “There are three main things: you’re learning different theories, but only if applied and tested does it become reality for you. You retain information better and you understand information better – pretty much it’s to enforce whatever you’ve learned in lecture. If you’re doing something, let’s say learning how to ride a bike, you’re going to remember it for the rest of your life.” Also, as our students say, it will be an opportunity to bond with the students in the group, as well as bonding with the faculty and bonding with the staff.” Zajickova said such excursions also provide the opportunity to teach new material, because there often isn’t time to cover everything in a semester’s worth of curriculum.
Students can participate for school credit, typically with a Barry faculty member, or to receive pay during the summer. Zajickova said most funding comes from the National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation (NSF). Her Lawrence-Berkeley group, for example, is funded by an NSF grant. “On top of it, we take students to local, national and international meetings,” she said. “I think in some schools and disciplines, they don’t get the opportunity at all. We find the funding.”
For Bradley Haves, who graduated in 1990 from Barry’s School of Podiatric Medicine, out-of-classroom learning opportunities meant two things: learning to give back and interacting with different patient populations. At the end of their second year, podiatric med school students have a white coat ceremony and graduate to a clinical setting. Each goes through one rotation per month for a period of two years at different facilities, clinics and doctor’s offices. “That’s the way you learn, because it’s hands-on experience for treating patients, and Barry was very smart in getting some of the best hospitals in South Florida for us to get programs to rotate through. They really did a great job in getting us some tremendous doctors who were able to spend time with us and help us.” He lauded the school’s charitable efforts, which include seeing and providing care for South Florida’s indigent and homeless populations.
“The idea is not only providing charitable service to the community, but making sure the students have exposure to as many people as they can see,” Haves said. “It’s one of the great things about learning in South Florida–because of the ethnic diversity, you get to see different kinds of pathology.” Haves, former Alumni Volunteer of the Year, honoree of the Barry University Hall of Fame and Big Brothers Big Sisters, says his time at the school has a great deal to do with the type of physician he is today. “I think it really molded me to be a much more charitable person and really work more with the religious aspect, giving me more of a sense of community,” Haves said. “I think Barry really taught me a lot about that, and I’m really grateful for that, because I really feel it in every sense of the word.” Experiential learning can also help students find employment when they graduate. “Even though you have a college degree, people who are hiring want people with experience as well,” Callaghan said. “All experiential coursework is listed on a resume in a way that allows potential employers to see they have some type of experience. What employers really need in finding new employees is identifying those who have gone and practiced something, who can think of things differently and come up with solutions to problems. Our students have already kind of proven that they can function effectively in whatever field they’re interested in.”