Ambassador Enterprises in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Magical Meadows in Warsaw, Ind., were each named Employer of the Year by Grace College for their outstanding contributions to Grace’s applied learning and internship programs. In addition, Grace College junior Paulina Rodgers received the Applied Learning Student of the Year Award while senior Rachel Elsner received the Internship Student of the Year Award at Wednesday’s annual awards chapel.
Grace College’s applied learning and internship programs prepare students to enter the workforce after graduation. They supply substantial practical experience in each student’s field of interest. According to Randy Polston, director of applied learning at Grace College, “Experiential learning is ‘learning through reflection on doing.’ At Grace, we believe it is important for every student to have the opportunity to learn and reflect by doing. Applied learning and internships are the vehicles we use to provide this vital experience.”
Applied learning is required for graduation in each academic program at Grace. Students must attain 12 applied learning credits, equating to 480 hours of work experience. Grace offers more than 200 unique opportunities for students to connect with businesses, agencies and churches which include research projects, cross-cultural field experiences and community service projects.
The Applied Learning Student of the Year, Paulina Rodgers, is a junior from Marion, Ind., majoring in educational ministries. Paulina worked at Twin Lakes Camp and Conference Center in Hillsboro, Ind. as a counselor last summer. She led a cabin of 10 campers each week, caring for their spiritual, physical and emotional well-being as well as coordinating their activities and leading daily devotions.
Paulina’s supervisor, Ashley Nierman, commented, “Paulina’s work ethic and amazing heart led to a great experience and personal growth. She was always pushing herself and trying to improve herself. She listened to advice and was willing to apply it.”
Magical Meadows, a therapeutic horseback riding program in Warsaw, won the Applied Learning Employer of the Year for its outstanding program. Several Grace College students have chosen Magical Meadows for their applied learning since 2012. Students at Magical Meadows perform instructional assistance, administrative assistance and animal care. Each student completes a volunteer training course to better understand the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding and proper maintenance of horses. Students consistently praise Magical Meadows for the fulfilling experience it affords, both professionally and personally.
Internships, generally reserved for junior and senior year, allow students to see practical application of the course material they have learned in the classroom. In the 2015-16 school year, 181 Grace students secured internships. Internships are more formal than applied learning because they are specifically related to the students’ majors. Assigned projects reinforce the student’s career path and cultivate people skills, collaboration, business etiquette and personal propriety.
Senior Rachel Elsner of Lititz, Pa., won this year’s Internship Student of the Year Award. Rachel is a business student who interned at State Farm Insurance in Stevens, Pa. Her supervisor, Matt Williams, appreciated her ability to work independently without direction. Williams said “she wrote more automobile loans than anyone else in the office and was a top performer in our district of State Farm Agents.” Additionally, using the system Rachel implemented, “our office wrote more loans than in last five years combined,” Williams said.
Ambassador Enterprises (AE), in Fort Wayne, Ind., was recognized as Internship Employer of the Year for its outstanding internship program. AE helps fledgling companies survive economically. Three Grace students were selected to participate in AE’s competitive internship program during the summer of 2015. The students cultivated leadership, problem solving, project management and teamwork skill sets from practical experience as well as weekly learning sessions led by area executives. In addition, the interns stayed overnight in Nashville, Tenn., with an AE corporate executive to visit the companies they had worked to improve. The exceptional, professional experience left the students ready to pursue their careers.
For more information about Grace’s applied learning programs, contact Randy Polston at email@example.com, or call 574-372-5100. To learn about internships, contact DeeAnna Muraski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 574-372-5100.