An Interview With Dean Sceppa ~ The Dean of Bouvé College of Health Sciences

 S-L Street Team Member Salil Khanna

As a faculty member at Northeastern, you’ve been engaged with service-learning for a long time….

Can you tell me more about the program you organized, Healthy Kids Healthy Future? 

A decade ago, in 2009, a group of organizers and I created Healthy Kids Healthy Futures. We worked within Northeastern University and its communication engagement team, because we wanted to create a program for the community to provide opportunities for caregivers and young children. This program involves components of both lifestyle and nutrition, mainly having nutrition classes, with the inclusion of physical activities. These centers are staffed by service-learning students who are trained to foster skills between kids and adults. There are about 30 sites in the Boston area, and in total there have been about 450 students who served in this program as well as 3000 visitors to the centers.

What is something valuable you believe students take away or should take away, through Service-Learning? (What value do you see in service-learning?)

By engaging students in service-learning, I want them to learn how to work with the community, and take what they have learned from their classrooms and apply it to a real setting. Not only do I hope they apply what they have learned in the classrooms in the real setting, but I also hope what they will learn in the community will be applied in the classroom. Students are able to learn soft skills that are not really learned in the classroom through service-learning programs. Immersive learning opportunities also help in shaping the future of some students. Through a service-learning opportunity, some students took what they learned, even if they weren’t a nutrition major student, and expanded their horizons as to what their careers could be. 

What is one thing everyone should know about Service-Learning?

Service-Learning is something that should not be viewed as another chapter of a book. Instead, through Service-Learning, students are able to find something new, or complementary to your classes that they can learn from.

Do you believe Service Learning should be something every student at Northeastern should experience?

As a member of the faculty, providing experiential learning is essential to a Northeastern student’s learning experience. Every single class doesn’t need to have a service-learning opportunity, but rather, every student should try to engage in experiential learning. Service-learning is valuable as you are able to learn how the people in a given -community live and what they struggle through. 

How has your experience as the dean of Bouve affected your vision of a student’s learning experience?

If anything, by taking on the position of Dean, I have seen an increase in the importance of Service-Learning. As the Dean, I am actively seeking a variety of opportunities for students to engage in service-learning. By transitioning from professor to Dean, I have also taken on the role of making sure that the organization’s expectations we partner with are being met. Not only do I need to make sure that the students’ abilities and schedules  work with the organization, but I have to ensure that the image and reputation of the college and students are maintained. 

If Service-learning was a color which one would it be?

Green, in my opinion, should be the color of Service-Learning. I see green as the color of hope. While in the Fall and the Winter everything is brown, in the Spring everything is green, making green a color of rebirth. Service-learning feels to be an opportunity for communities to be engaged with energizing hope from students.

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