Mount St. Joseph University

Making an Impact

Mount News: alumni magazine

Christopher Kokenge head shot

Thanks to an $84,000 grant from The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, the Mount continues to offer five cooperative education positions each semester with Hamilton County Job and Family Services (HCJFS). HCJFS provides public assistance, children’s services, child support, and workforce development programs in Hamilton County, Ohio.

“For students, these co-op opportunities are a chance to apply classroom learning to real-world situations, expand their network of contacts, and gain insight into the type of work they may or may not want to do after graduation,” says Jane Huesman, project manager in the Quality Assurance Program at HCJFS.

Huesman says she and her team tailor tasks and job duties to balance the business needs of the organization with the specific learning objectives and career interests of students.

HCJFS benefits from co-ops, too. Huesman credits the Mount’s students’ academic preparedness with providing new perspectives regarding the approach and tools they use.

“Part of my varied learning experience as an intern was to shadow my current investigator colleagues. Through this I gained great experience and professional connections that helped me very much in the interview process with HCJFS.” — Christopher Kokenge ’12, HCJFS Child Care Investigator

“Their enthusiasm is energizing and encouraging,” Huesman says. “Ultimately, many of the students become ambassadors for the organization.”

HCJFS co-ops walk away with more than on-the-job training. Students gain a broader life view by seeing how the agency works with the public to overcome challenges, she says.

“They gain confidence as they understand how their role contributes to the organization and to the community. They also realize the practical applications of what they learn in the classroom,” she says. “They become more adept at problem solving and leveraging their own knowledge and experience.”
And for some, they later land a job.

“Both the HCJFS and the College quickly realized the great synergies that resulted from having the students doing real work related to their majors. The partnership has grown from one or two students a semester to five, and we hope it continues to grow.” – Maggie Davis, Ph.D., Associate Academic Dean

Small Grant, Big Impact

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation Governing Board and the Summertime Kids Volunteer Committee members recently awarded an $800 grant to the Mount’s Reading Education Program. Through a partnership with the Price Hill Summer Learning Camp and Santa Maria Community Services, the Early Literacy Program provides literacy-based summer enrichment activities for young children living in poverty in the Price Hill neighborhood.

“Service is the heart of what we do and who we are,” says Amy Murdoch, Ph.D., director of the Mount’s reading science program and creator of the Early Literacy Program.

“Learning to read is of paramount importance in our society,” she says. “It is the first ticket to school success and thus success and participation in our society. And we know how to teach it and teach it well.”

Murdoch says the program also provides Mount students – future teachers – experiences with working with families living in poverty to understand the benefits and power of their instruction.

“The beauty of early reading services is that you are able to make a large and clear impact in a short period of time by teaching specific early reading skills,” Murdoch says. “In the children we serve we always see remarkable gains.”