(L-R) Victoria Marie Filipe '21, Criminal Justice; Jaquay Dee-Hardmon '18, English; Jane Collins, Professor; and Alexander Meister '20, Communications.

Living, Learning and Serving Together

What comes to mind when you imagine college dormitory life? A chaotic party scene from a Hollywood film? Lost young men and women, wondering where they belong in society, who their peers down the hall are, and why they are there in the first place?

Things are different at Dyson, and the Dyson Scholars in Residence Program (DSIR) is one example.

Aptly named, DSIR is a yearlong living-learning community based in Elm Hall on the Pleasantville campus. Students live together as roommates in a dedicated block of suites, take two classes together and engage in a hands-on service project. In the process, they foster a commitment to each other, their faculty mentor, and the larger community. The Dyson Scholars in Residence Program supports Dyson’s mission to combine academic instruction with experiential learning.

The first true living-learning experience on the Pleasantville campus, this program is a reflection of a movement occurring on campuses all across the United States, a best-practices initiative that reconsiders the traditional paradigm of education. Associate Professor of English, Jane Collins, PhD, the program’s creator and director, has even found ways to use the student lounge for teaching rather than a four-walled classroom. This open learning environment is indicative of the objectives Collins has for the program, including student retention and a greater sense of community.

She notes, “Recent research on student satisfaction strongly suggests that interactions with faculty members outside of the classroom helps students to feel more deeply connected with their university.”

Open to Dyson majors and Dyson-leaning undecided students, the program launched in the fall of 2017. The fall course, Creating a Good Life, explored the intersection of research on creativity, productivity, success, and happiness, and the spring course, Dyson Scholars in Residence Seminar, connected students to a hands-on service project.

This year, the DSIR program collaborated with the Successful Learning Center (SLC) in Westchester, an organization that helps college-aged students with developmental disabilities have a rewarding college experience by taking classes at area colleges. Dyson students mentored SLC students through a weekly poetry workshop, which culminated in a community poetry reading and a published book of student poems.

Dyson Scholar in Residence Kaitlyn Houlihan ’22, Political Science, forged a rewarding relationship with Hillary Barber, the SLC student she mentored.

She says, “Although I was considered a “mentor” to Hillary during the service portion of the program, she taught me that every person, regardless of their position in life, is capable of learning all the time. That being said, you could say my education was enriched because this program taught me that you can learn any time, any place, and from anybody...and have a little fun in the process!”

Houlihan also said that her experiences in the DSIR program met her hopes for creating strong bonds with a faculty member: “Because the DSIR program is a dual-semester program, I was able to grow close with Dr. Collins through meetings and working with her one-on-one. This personalized relationship with a faculty member is exactly what I hoped to reap from the DSIR program and my college experience.”

We look forward to the DSIR program continuing to impact the academic and life experiences of Dyson students and the greater community that they enjoy serving.

Applications for the 2018-2019 academic year have already been submitted, but for more information, contact Professor Collins at jcollins@pace.edu.