e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | November 16, 2012 Twitter Facebook

Hands-on learning supports the fight against cancer

Students in the HR Management class work on the Women's 5K Classic. From left: Eric Schultz '14, Steve Maurer '14, Shannon Smith '13, Leah Masterson '15, and Mary-Elizabeth Bruseo

Throughout the fall semester, students from Katie P. Desiderio’s Human Resource Management classes experienced a unique hands-on learning opportunity as they partnered with the Women’s 5K Classic, Inc., to help organize its Women’s Health Expo and Women’s 10K race in October.

The Women’s 5K Classic has held these events annually since 1993. Its goals are to enhance the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of its participants, to support Lehigh Valley women fighting breast cancer, to fund Lehigh Valley breast cancer programs and research, and to educate women about cancer awareness, prevention and treatment.

More than 600 attended the Women’s Health Expo on October 12, where they took part in health screenings and shopped at vendors’ tables. Members of one of the classes performed a variety of tasks to help with this event, including event planning, running the concierge desk and handing out Moravian sponsorship cards during the event, working with police to organize parking, setting up the warehouse where the expo was held, and conducting surveys of participants after it ended.

The other HR class contributed to the 10K Race, which was held on Saturday October 13 and brought in more than 5,000 people. It was the first 10K course run by the Women’s 5K Classic. The class designed the course, helped with advertising, participant registration, and volunteer recruitment and training, designed and placed mile markers and motivational signs, handed out Moravian sponsorship cards at the event, and surveyed participants afterwards. One of the students in the class, Jen Parodi ’14, also created the event’s tagline: “Only tough girls wear pink. Are you tough enough? Find out by joining us for the Women’s 10K!”

According to Desiderio, assistant professor of management, the intensive work that both classes put into their events gave them applied real-world Human Resource experience outside of the classroom. Although some students were hesitant to put in so much work outside of class at the beginning of the process, all of them quickly became dedicated to making the events a success and found their contributions very rewarding.

Desiderio stressed the importance of her students getting practical experience outside of the classroom: “They really get to see HR in action. Just by the nature of resource allocation, they get to see how you work on a limited budget, getting people involved, assigning jobs— how to get people motivated and excited to do these jobs.” The events will also be excellent additions on the students’ resumes, and the experience gained will be invaluable, as Kassie Ward ’14 reflects: “Knowing what went right, and what didn’t go well can be used for future things.”

The experience also made a positive impact on the community. Desiderio noted that some students are naturally altruistic and will seek out opportunities to benefit the community without being encouraged to do so, while others had their first community service experiences through these events, feeling the pride that comes from being responsible citizens and helping others.

She said that these “ah-ha moments” are the reasons she wanted the event to be focused on community outreach. Karli Gnehm ’14was very dedicated to the community aspects of the event, and said it was “an amazing experience. You can do a lot of community service through the school, but this showed a real-life aspect outside of being guided by Moravian.”

Parodi felt particularly connected to the event and was proud to make a positive contribution to the fight against breast cancer. She stressed that Moravian’s place in the community makes such outreach very rewarding. “Participating in events like these stresses our college values. Being a small school lets us reach out to the community and be connected,” she said.