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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Beyond the Classroom Provides Real Life Experience

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" -- Nelson Mandela at the University of Witwatersrand in 2003By Colleen McMullen, BTC Student

In college it is very easy to get swept up in academics, to only think short term, study all the time, and develop tunnel vision on getting good grades. While this may enable a student to master the concepts of his or her major, it is an incomplete way of preparing for the “real world”.  Even easier is failing to think about how what students learn at the University of Maryland applies and will contribute to the rest of the world. College is a rather sheltered environment in which students may learn about the issues facing the world today, but have little opportunity to see them in action and learn what is being done to combat them.

The Beyond the Classroom program has changed this perspective for me. It has exposed me to the world’s leading problems in new and engaging ways: through community service, activism, research, and meeting and speaking with those that are directly affected by challenges and work to fight them. Continue reading


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Internship at Wildlife Research Center Teaches About the Nature of Nonprofits

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

By Rebecca Marchwinski, BTC Student
For my Beyond the Classroom internship, I worked at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center with the Friends of Patuxent. This was not a traditional internship and required a lot of hands-on work outdoors.The internship had two main goals: research and public outreach. On the one hand, I spent a lot of time at a duck colony with over 100 ducks, conducting behavioral research and observations. On the other hand, I would attend events through the Friends of Patuxent to inform the public about the research occurring on the refuge and what issues that research was addressing. Continue reading

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Converging Issues: Earth Day, An Inconvenient Truth?

Editor’s Note: Beyond the Classroom encourages program participants to identify civic issues that are most important to them.  Through activities, lectures, films, seminars, classes, events, and internships, students learn how they can address those issues through civic engagement, advocacy, and action.  This post is the fourth in the “Converging Issues” series, which are blogs that examine these issues from student and staff perspectives – including what inspired the authors to get involved in their civic issue and how they were involved or can be involved in that issue through BTC.
Kevin Lalama

The author

By Kevin Lalama, BTC Student

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
~ Chief Seattle

A recent Foreign Policy article caught my attention.  The post begs a serious question: Do we care about Earth Day anymore?  I thought to myself, how could we not?  But Elizabeth Ralph’s article poses some disheartening facts; surprisingly, worldwide, the Google search for “Earth Day” is at an all time low since 2004 (Graph 1 below).

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BTC Internship Sparks Passion for Addressing Educational Inequalities

By Morgan Franklin, BTC Student 

“…I co-founded an afterschool tutoring and mentoring program at High Point High School in Beltsville, just 5 miles from the University of Maryland, and just 10 miles from Walter Johnson High School.  Of the entering freshmen class at High Point, only 33% graduate.  That’s 33%, compared to greater than 95% at schools like Walter Johnson.”

I have always been interested in education, but up until about 2 years ago, I felt as if I was so far removed from all the problems facing our nation’s students in lower-income areas.  I went to public elementary school in Howard County, Maryland, and then attended a highly competitive, academically rigorous private high school in Montgomery County.  Although I didn’t attend public high high school, Howard and Montgomery Counties are both known for their excellent public school systems.  Walter Johnson High School, the public high school that serves my family’s neighborhood has a greater than 95% graduation rate.  Demographically, it is over 50% white.  When you live in an environment like the one I did growing up, you feel as if the problem of educational inequity is so far removed, and that your individual help is not significant whatsoever.  This is definitely the perspective I had a few years ago. Continue reading

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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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A Semester of Discovery at Bread for the World

Hermela Capitol

The author, at left, pictured in front of the Capitol with other Bread for the World interns at a lobby day on Capitol Hill.

By Hermela Hailemeskel, BTC Student

“One in 6 people struggle with hunger, 5 in 6 can help.”

This semester, I was able to follow my passion to help end hunger. I had the opportunity to intern in the Church Relations Department of Bread for the World, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to urge decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad through advocacy. I initially learned about Bread for the World last semester in the Beyond the Classroom UNIV325 Seminar class. Continue reading

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Internship Experience at American Forests Serves as Preparation for Life After Graduation

by Tacy Lambiase, BTC Student

I knew last semester that I wanted a spring internship that would teach me valuable communication skills. Since I want to pursue a career incommunications with some kind of emphasis on sustainability or environmental education after graduation, I looked for openings at organizations related to environmental activism and conservation. After finding out about American Forests, a conservation nonprofit in Washington, D.C., and securing an internship working with their communications department, I am pleased to say that I have certainly learned valuable skills over the past few months that I can use in my post-graduation life. Continue reading