Quick Contact

Ronald Porter
Director of Service-Learning

Eckerd College
Office of Service-Learning
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711


toll-free: 800-456-9009
local: 727-864-7512


Service Learning

Blaise Bess '06

Political Science

Blaise Bess 

I love to travel, to be outdoors and have always been interested in social justice, grass roots organizing, and political activism. I found my passion for studying human rights at Eckerd College, which provided me with a philosophy on which I based my goals and work ethic. Human rights is largely about the eliminating political and environmental disarray through the recognition of everyones right to be free from suffering, and the duty of everyone to proactively enforce those rights. It wasn't until coming to Eckerd and participating in the winter terms, and community service opportunities that I realized how practical and realistic this goal is. I concentrated most of my work on gaining international experience with grass-roots work, while maximizing the fun of it! I value well roundedness, and think part of learning to protect and restore the world is enjoying what it has to offer. Exposure to the world is one of the most important components of a complete education, at least in my view. At Eckerd I was privileged with the chances to see 17 different countries across 5 continents, engaging in work in Townships of South Africa, Development Firms in South East Asia, International Political Organizations in Europe, and human rights groups in the Middle East. Each experience was something I would not trade back for anything.

The value of social service work is beyond measurement for one's self and others- and I am not using hyperbole. One day of work helping others has effects that ripple across communities farther than one day's work sought to enrich only you. I remember working at a school in South Africa, clearing garbage and planting trees in school yard, and seeing local students come to help, inspired and motivated by nothing else than seeing us work. Since traveling to the Middle East to study peace and conflict resolution three friends of mine have also traveled to the same spots I visited on similar projects, and I was able to help them plan their trip. Each said they were motivated by seeing me travel off on what seemed like a dangerous, and likely to fruitless pursuit, returning fulfilled and enriched with experience and a sense of accomplishment. To put it simply, people inspire people everyday, and to think work you do will not have effects on those around you is contrary to human nature.

Currently I am in Law School at Tulane University in New Orleans. I picked New Orleans for chances to understand the rebuilding efforts and problems the city faces. I have learned that most of the failure in rebuilding the city is due to structural dysfunction in the system. Some money and supplies remain stagnant, while others are spent wastefully amidst what appears to be a corrupted array of leaders in various spot. Furthermore, there are many people who are more than willing to do repair work themselves on their own homes and others, without pay, who are denied access to destroyed neighborhoods and told they have to abandon their homes without explanation as to why. The role of social justice runs the gambit from working in the dirt, to lobbying our politicians and working in the private sectors to try and evoke changes and reforms, since things are not always a matter of lack of money or manpower. I attribute my understanding, and recognition of all the more there is to understand with service learning experiences I had at Eckerd. I hope to engane in social justice through legal work, and am still deciding what my path will be in the next few years.

Calls for Participation

Academy Prep

Volunteer with Academy Prep

Academy Prep is a unique private middle school program serving 5th through 8th grade students in a low-income area. Students must qualify for need-based scholarships to attend and must have a desire to succeed in a rigorous academic environment. Academy Prep works with students to prepare them for higher education, maintaining relationships with graduates through high school, college, and into their adult lives.

YMCA Reads

Volunteer Mentors Needed

YMCA Reads! is an after-school reading assistance and mentoring program providing opportunities for at-risk and low-income children in kindergarten through third grade to develop the reading skills they need to succeed in school.

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.