Nico's HeadshotI participated in my first Community Engaged Learning (CEL) project at Western this past year. As a part of our capstone requirement for the Scholar’s Electives module, our class split into small groups of 3-4 students and each group was paired with a community group to complete a ‘mini consulting project’ that helped solve a challenge our community partners were facing in their organization.

I was lucky enough to be paired with Community Living London (CLL), a local not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting people with developmental disabilities to live fulfilled lives. My group was asked to help CLL solve a capacity issue they were having with their emergency on-call supervisor telephone – simply put, CLL’s supervisors were feeling overwhelmed by the amount of calls they were getting to the line after hours and it was our job to come up with a solution to help solve the problem.

Be a part of amazing work going on in our backyard!

Our team conducted an operational review and options analysis for the emergency on-call system. We analyzed three years of data, reviewed relevant policies and manuals, conducted over 25 interviews, surveyed almost 100 staff members, and scanned seven other Community Living Agencies across Ontario to provide a full review and recommendation set to our community partner. This project served as an incredible experiential learning opportunity where my group was able to apply our classroom skills to a real-life problem. As a student group coming together from diverse disciplinary backgrounds (Astrophysics, Geography, Political Science, and Business) we each brought different capabilities to the project and had the unique opportunity to learn from each other in a cross-disciplinary fashion. The experience we gained will be directly applicable to our future careers and helped each of us build a portfolio of relevant experience for future academic and career pursuits.

What I enjoyed the most about CEL was the opportunity to learn more about Community Living London and positively contribute to the London community through my academic studies. CLL is an incredible organization and this project gave me a completely new lens into the community I’ve called home for the past four years. Moving forward, I hope to continue to stay involved with Community Living and other organizations like it in London or wherever I end up after Western.

Community Engaged Learning provides a really great opportunity for Western students to get out into the London community and be a part of amazing work going on in our backyard! I would highly recommend Western students participate in a CEL project if they ever have the chance. Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow. I felt inspired to go above and beyond the requirements of the project because I knew I was contributing to a great organization with a mission and purpose that I believed in. I think that most students who participate in CEL will find the same thing!

Positively contribute to the London community through [your] academic studies

Group photo of CEL participants with partner

Left to Right: Mark Krammer, HBA/Astrophysics dual degree student, Nico Waltenbury, HBA/Political Science dual degree student, Melanie Alexander, Community Living London Volunteer & Membership Coordinator, Barbara Furac, Community Living London Community Services Supervisor, Selina Phan, HBA/Urban Development dual degree student.