Students for a Better World: The Beyond the Classroom Blog

Stories, Resources, & More from the Beyond the Classroom (BTC) Program at University of Maryland

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Internship at the Sierra Club Illustrates Importance of Government and Nonprofit Collaboration


By Colleen McMullen, BTC Student

This semester, I worked for the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club as a water protection intern. As a biodiversity and conservation biology major at the University of Maryland, I have a strong interest protecting the environment. I was very drawn to this organization for the array of environmental issues it addresses and the unique club experience it offers its members. Working with the Maryland Sierra Club has been a very enlightening and valuable experience that has taught me a great deal about Maryland’s environment and the inner workings of a grassroots organization. Continue reading


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Immigration Rally Provides Hands-On Lesson in Advocacy

By Randolph Tidd, BTC Student

Video by the author from the Rally for Marriage Equality at the Supreme Court on March 26, 2013 for Beyond the Classroom:

On April 10, I attended a rally for immigration supporters at the west entrance to the Capitol. From the moment I arrived at the top of the Union Station Metro Station, I became part of the steady stream of rally goers headed towards the Capitol grounds. It was obvious this was going to one of the most organized political rallies of the year. The e-mail alerts from Casa de Maryland didn’t seem that different from other events held in previous years. This year, however, the immigrant community has found new energy in the wake of last year’s election, and the impact should continue to reverberate at many levels. Continue reading

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“We are Wisconsin” Illustrates Lessons in People Power

By Ross Heise, BTC Student

The nonprofit “We Are Wisconsin” continues to advocate for the state’s worker’s rights.

On February 25, I attended Beyond the Classroom’s viewing of the documentary “We are Wisconsin” as a part of the “People Power: Activism for Social Change” faculty and film series.  The film showed the historic events that happened last year in Wisconsin and the people that were a part of it. The film details everything that happened at the state capitol starting from when Governor Scott Walker proposed the bill SB11. The bill was his solution to the struggling economy.  He claimed Wisconsin was in a “budget crisis” and the only way to fix it was to cut benefits and wages for public employees. Not only that, but the most surprising development was legislation that would end employee’s right to collective bargaining. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving: A Day of Service Allows Students to Be Grateful

by Caroline Wilson, BTC Student

The author, pictured hard at work making sweet potato casserole.

“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.”  — Northrup Christiane

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Beyond the Classroom students had the honor of helping make a pre-Thanksgiving feast for the women at Calvary Women’s Services.  Calvary is a place for homeless women to get more than just a safe place to live and nutritious meals.  Calvary also provides woman educational programs, employment opportunities, mental health services, addiction recovery support and much more.  Their mission includes “providing a safe place for homeless women to live and providing basic services to help educate and empower women for independent living.” Continue reading

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Documentary Asks: “What is the Cost of Democracy?”

by Pranshu Gupta and Kevin Lalama, BTC Students

“…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” — Abraham Lincoln

Comic by John Darkow, selected by the authors.

On November 5, we attended the Beyond the Classroom’s “Voting As If the Issues Matter: Spotlight on the 2012 Elections” discussion series.  On the eve of the Presidential election, the documentary Pricele$$, opened our eyes to the issues of an unregulated, campaign spending industry.  Directed by Steve Cowan, the film sheds light on the “out-of-control electoral system that obligates our leaders to the giant industries that bankroll their electoral campaigns.”  Cowan’s non-partisan perspective highlights the faults of both the Democrat and Republican political parties.  Continue reading

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Dr. Jane Goodall: A Lesson in Passion and Perseverance

Dr. Jane Goodall spoke at The Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Maryland earlier this fall.

by Hermela Hailemeskel, BTC Student

“Every single day we live, we make a difference. We impact the world and you have a choice as to what kind of impact we make.”
— Dr. Jane Goodall

I had an amazing opportunity to attend a documentary viewing of “Jane’s Journey” hosted by Beyond the Classroom followed by a televised lecture of Dr. Jane Goodall’s Speech, Making a Difference on October 13. This event was one of my best spent weekends here at the University of Maryland. Continue reading

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Alumna Profile: Katie Cardona

by Dr. Caitlin Haugen, BTC Assistant Director

Alumna Katie Cardona.

What advice would alumna Katie Cardona offer current students after reflecting on her experience in Beyond the Classroom?

“Take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you. Even if it is not something you are initially interested in, you can benefit from any activity that BTC presents to you. Many skills and ideas transfer between career fields, even if they are not staring you in the face.”

When the senior Hearing and Speech Sciences  major from Delaware, joined Beyond the Classroom in the Spring Semester of her sophomore year, she did just that.  Despite being quite busy with the Yellow Ribbon Fund and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, she was an active member of the community and regularly attended a variety of events .  Two favorites included a civic learning trip to the Newseum and a presentation by Paul K. Chappell, a veteran turned peace activist. Continue reading