Defining the Merrimack Experience
Community service has long been an indispensable part of a Merrimack education. Today, nearly seven centuries after the college’s founding, it still helps define the Merrimack experience.
The growth of students, intellectually, spiritually and morally, is the foundation of our Augustinian heritage, with its emphasis on community life and caring for one another.
It is a powerful combination of academic excellence, integrated with the enriching experience of community service, that shapes our students and guides them to a rich and fulfilling life.
Merrimack devotes the resources of its faculty, students and staff to continued cooperation and collaboration with grass-roots government, business and community initiatives. The college promotes a cooperative approach among members of the college to teaching and learning, research and social justice in sustaining the college’s responsibility as a partner among neighboring communities.
Community Partnership Programs
Hundreds of Merrimack students and faculty members integrate volunteer opportunities with various courses in all divisions of the college each semester through the Stevens Service Learning Center. Service learning brings students into the life and needs of the communities that surround the campus and also bring those community needs into the life of the college curriculum. Students take an active role in learning and benefit from valuable connections of these experiences to their academic learning. The Stevens Service Learning Center at Merrimack, which was established in 1998 through a grant from the Stevens Foundation, places students in elder-service programs, nursing homes, elementary schools, day-care centers, boys and girls clubs, homeless shelters and soup kitchens, court systems and many other service organizations in need.
Hundreds of students are members of MerrimAction, a student organization that encourages commitment to social-justice principles and engagement. Merrimack students volunteer their time in myriad ways, including serving meals to the homeless, babysitting for children of single teen mothers, reading to children, painting and tutoring. Working with service agencies in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and surrounding communities, MerrimAction heightens the college community’s awareness of cultural and urban issues, offering experiences that teach students how they can be transformed in the process of reaching out to others.
Alternative Spring Break
Working in a soup kitchen. Volunteering at an Augustinian orphanage or school. Building and repairing homes. These are but a few of the volunteer activities that many Merrimack College students and their advisers perform every year during Alternative Spring Break, a tradition on the Merrimack campus for nearly 50 years. During their travel to various locations across the U.S., Mexico, Latin America and Peru, students become involved in communities and exposed to different cultures. These experiences encourage a lifetime of civic involvement, and often for the first time, students see the struggles that others must endure. Students raise their own funds to cover expenses of transportation and meals.
Merrimack is the first college in the country to sponsor a Nativity model school, Bellesini Academy, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, which opened in 2002. The academy, named for Stephen Bellesini, a 19th-century Augustinian friar, is a financially independent, Catholic middle school for boys that provides a quality education integrated with moral and spiritual development for struggling but promising students of low-income urban families. Its mission is to provide an academically challenging and highly structured environment that gives each student the opportunity to succeed in competitive secondary schools and colleges. Some Merrimack alumni have served as volunteer teachers, and Merrimack students provide mentoring and other volunteer services for the academy. > Bellesini Academy website
The commitment to community service that owes its roots to the founders of Merrimack College is as strong today as it ever was. New initiatives that strengthen this commitment continue to be embraced by the college’s students, faculty, alumni, administration, board of trustees and other friends.