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Dover Post
  • DSU freshmen volunteer at Dover-area museums

  • Most freshman college students will begin school in late August and spend the first week or so memorizing their schedules and learning their way around campus.
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  • Most freshman college students will begin school in late August and spend the first week or so memorizing their schedules and learning their way around campus.
    But a small group of incoming freshman at Delaware State University has already hit the ground running by participating in a summer session called Jumpstart.
    In addition to getting ahead on their coursework, students in the program also are volunteering through a pilot service-learning project, which will culminate Saturday with them leading activities and demonstrations at four Dover-area museums, including the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum and the Old State House.
    Micah Johnson, a 17-year-old student enrolled in the inaugural Jumpstart program, has been working to create PowerPoint slides and plan out tours at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center.
    “I learned that it takes a group effort to make things happen,” she said. “I have learned that there is a lot of history in this state many people don’t know about.”
    Cassandra Green, director of DSU’s academic support center, said volunteering in the community can be useful in helping freshmen, like Johnson, make the sometimes difficult transition from high school to college.
    “They don’t always find out about their potential until the year is almost up,” she said. “This project is causing students to critically think before they’re being challenged in their academic curriculum. They have time to exercise public speaking, practice [and] time management.”
    Another goal of the program is to integrate service learning into the Jumpstart students’ academic coursework, Green said.
    “Instead of having a volunteer experience and saying, ‘Oh that was nice,’ they’re looking at themes in English, themes in mathematics and the historical society has agricultural themes. They had to think through the actives they’re going to do on Saturday and apply those themes.”
    The students were given free rein to create the activities and demonstrations they’ll present on Saturday, so long as it related to the history or exhibits at their assigned museum, said Deanna Rishell, a volunteer coordinator for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, which oversees the four museums.
    “We’ve just been asked to act as a guide and are answering content questions,” she said. “They’re making it their own and putting their own spin on it. It’s been fun to watch them explore their museum and their topic in history, and to look at it with a new perspective as 18 year olds.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Rishell said she is hoping the program will foster a relationship between the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and DSU that will allow the museums to attract previously-untapped audiences.

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