By Analeigh Hughes

This semester, one-fourth of the sophomore class is embarking on a learning experience that will take them outside of the classroom.

College Park Scholars is a two-year, living-learning program that is “constructed around the notion of community and active experiential learning,” according to Associate Director of College Park Scholars Dave Eubanks.

Students, who live in the Cambridge Community their freshman year, spend the first three semesters taking a colloquium and supporting courses that supplement the theme of their program. There are twelve programs for students to choose from centering around ideas such as global public health, international studies and public leadership.

During the spring semester, students complete a practicum to complete the citation requirements, but most importantly they get to apply what they learned in class to the outside world.

Students can complete this requirement by doing an internship, participating in research or through education abroad. Eubanks said the student’s major, Scholars Program and what they want to accomplish all factor in to how they decide to satisfy the requirement.

“Any given year, we’re talking about 1,600 students in College Park Scholars and students have different educational needs,” Eubanks added.

Noah Ismael is one of the students currently completing his practicum. The sophomore public policy major is currently interning at the Maryland State Senate for Washington County Senator Andrew Serafini.

“I was lucky to be a Maryland General Assembly scholarship recipient last year, and at the reception I told my home senator that I was a public policy major. He recommended that I apply to be an intern at the senate, so I sent my resume in. I was fortunate that Senator Serafini needed an intern and added me to his staff this session.”

Although his duties vary on a day-to-day basis, Ismael says his responsibilities often involve preparing the senator for session and committee hearings, meeting with lobbyists to understand the different positions on proposed legislation, working on issues for constituents and helping with media outreach.

Misha Bucknor is another sophomore in College Park Scholars. The kinesiology major completed her practicum over the summer by interning for the DeMatha Catholic High School athletic department, which she then continued into the fall semester.

“I picked this because it aligns with my major, it interests me and is something I am considering as a potential career path. I really enjoy working with sports and athletes because that is something I have been a part of my whole life,” she said. “I ran track since I was in middle school, I work out regularly and have spent countless hours with athletic trainers and physical therapists myself, so I knew that I wanted to have a positive impact on athletes like I experienced.”

Bucknor said her biggest responsibility while shadowing three of the athletic trainers was to learn. Over the course of her internship, she focused on learning and applying basic evaluation skills, anatomy of an injury and basic treatment of an injury.

Eubanks said she senses the most difficult part of the practicum requirement is when students have an off-campus internship and have to balance that with their school work.

While completing her internship, Bucknor was also taking a blended learning summer class and working at a local pizza place. She said she feels the main reason she was able to manage everything was not only because her course load was much lighter, but also because her internship was “very understanding” about her having other obligations.

Ismael is taking four classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in order to accommodate going to his internship on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“The most important thing for me to do is manage my time effectively,” he added.

Eubanks said the goal of the practicum is that students are “supposed to be in the world working on real-life concepts you’ve been working on in Scholars.”

Ismael said he does not yet feel that he has been able to apply anything he’s learned in his program to his internship. Bucknor said she had a difficult time applying lessons she learned in her media, self and society program with her kinesiology internship, but she did find some overlap.

“Since the school I was interning at is predominantly African-American, I was able to keep in mind stereotyping and how the media view black people versus black athletes, and how [the stereotypes] may or may not affect them.”

It is typical for students to have three internships by the time they graduate, so Eubanks feels the practicum is a good opportunity to get started on that early.

Both Ismael and Bucknor said they do not think they would’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to have an internship this early in their college careers if not for College Park Scholars.

Although the practicum is the end of a student’s time in College Park Scholars, it helps students lay the foundation for success in their junior and senior years at this university.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of teakwood’s Flickr account.

Analeigh Hughes is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at analeigh@terpmail.umd.edu.

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