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Ronald Porter
Acting Director of Service Learning

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Service Learning

Service Learning

Mary McNicol '07

Religious Studies major

Mary McNicol 

I am currently a graduate student at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, studying Practical Theology and Christian Ethics, researching Homosexuality and Christianity in Pastoral Counseling by way of Biblical exegesis and theological rhetoric. I graduated from Eckerd with a BA in Human Development with Spanish and Leadership Minors. I was also a member of the Lady Triton Volleyball Team for four years and Pres/VP of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee for all four as well. In addition, I was a Student Ministry Coordinator, I was the Athletics Liaison for ECOS, the Faculty Athletics Board Student Rep, and an assistant at ASPEC. I was also lucky enough to be the first Community Service Dorm Coordinator which began the 2005-2006 school year. But most importantly I travelled with Brian MacHarg and Becky Day on two alternative spring break trips, which gave me the will and desire to minister in a global setting.

I went to Venezuela in 2005 and worked with a youth organization called Ninos de la Luz in a town outside of Caracas. There we helped with physical labor during the day and bonded with the youth through spiritual building at night. This trip was not specifically a Christian trip, but due to it being during Holy Week, we were involved in much of the celebration leading to Christ's resurrection. In 2006, I went to Peru and worked at Tinkuy Peru with an amazing array of students which I'm sure are featured as well. In Huancayo we worked with three different organizations: an elementary school teaching English, an all girls orphanage teaching English, and an assisted living facility. My group spent most of the time with the orphanage. We were able to bond with the girls in such a short time and learned each of their stories. At times our hearts bled for them, and other times we rejoiced in the simplicities of life. It is difficult to put these experiences into words, but my only regret is that my freshman and sophomore years, I didn't take advantage of the spring break trips.

As I said, the trips were overwhelmingly the cause for my desire to minister abroad, in addition to other great service opportunities at Eckerd. When I arrived in Scotland, I was just going to be a researching student without any service commitments or employment, but then I got the opportunity to minister a church in Cove Bay, just outside the city. I had an amazing six months working with the community, establishing programs, preaching and working with organizations like Boys and Girls Brigade. I was proud to be a female minister in a very churchless country. However, I have recently felt called to be back in the United States. I am now serving my family. "Your family?", you ask. Yes. As my family ages, the elders in it need my support. Community service is not just about serving some third world country. It is about serving those in need. They happen to be in "the middle of nowhere" West Virginia. I would not have chosen to be in WV, but again, being the Pastor I am, I feel God calling me here. With my background from Eckerd through Service Learning and the mentoring I gained through the likes of Brian MacHarg, Mona Bagasao, Courtney Draper, Dr. Bob Fortosis, and all of the Human Development professors, I know I can even being my own program here in Beckley. I am currently employed as the Assistant Volleyball Coach at Mountain State University and look forward to the opportunities to build a Service Learning Program like that of Eckerd College in the future.

Notes from the Field

Servant Leaders blog
Service-Learning Interns blog
The service-learning student interns are increasing service involvement at Eckerd, becoming successful service leaders and helping students create a community around the values and challenges of servant-leadership.

Service Learning Profiles

Alumni Profiles

Read individual profiles of how involvement with Eckerd Service Learning changed the lives of current students and alumni.  Learn more.