Grace Students Gain Essential Life Skills from Applied Learning Experiences

Grace College students participating in applied learning experiences this summer are thriving in environments where they get a chance to practice real, experiential-based work and interaction. Applied learning initiatives aim to take the principles taught in the classroom out into the real world where otherwise solely academic concepts are put to practical use.

This summer almost 40 students are participating in the applied learning program and are active not only in their own communities, but also across the country in some cases. One such group is comprised of the 20 students who are in Orlando, FL, this summer. They are currently participating in a life-building initiative called “The Orlando Project” where 220 college students total are learning skills in leadership, discipleship, individual and community study, worship, and evangelism while simultaneously working a full-time job at local venues such as Universal Studios.

Out of the students participating in the project, 10 are earning credit through the program. These are Bethany Harshfield, Jessica Davis, Jocelyn Bassett, Ben Gifford, Nathan Patton, Chris Merrick, Joy Itiola, Jordan Fox, Isaac Herman and Colson Herman.

“After spending time with [the] Grace College students in Orlando, I looked at my wife and stated, ‘Our students are on fire for the Lord and how He will work in their lives to witness to those that do not know Him,’” says Randy Polston, Director of Applied Learning at Grace, who just returned from a visit to Orlando. Several students have approached him expressing their enthusiasm for this particular applied learning experience, noting that it has changed their perspectives on their careers and relationships. “The Orlando Project is a great example of an applied learning experience,” says Polston.

Another Grace student, Mackenzie Aldrich, is involved in a similar skills-building experiencing at LifeWorks Counseling in Fort Wayne, Ind. where she is earning credit as an intern. “My work experience at LifeWorks Counseling and Consulting has helped me tremendously in my career path. I have [had] more hands-on experience then I would in a classroom setting because I am actually in the field,” she says. Aldrich sees her summer applied learning endeavors as a chance not only to get an inside perspective on her major, but to get a taste of the real world. “My favorite part about this is that I get to experience what it is like being a professional,” says Aldrich. “If I had a chance to pursue more applied learning experience I would definitely do it again and I advise others to do it as well!”

Grace’s shift towards a curriculum that champions the integration of classroom knowledge and practical skills is one of many recent changes that the school has adopted. Students who are a part of the applied learning program continually attest that it has prepared them for the job market with experiential-based learning that they might have otherwise not encountered.

Grace College and Seminary is an evangelical Christian community of higher education which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and applies biblical values in strengthening character, sharpening competence, and preparing for service. The Seminary is conservative, evangelical, and has a rich tradition of sound biblical education that prepares men and women for both local and global church ministry. All of the institution’s academic, residential, athletic, and social priorities are designed to encourage intellectual and spiritual growth in a supportive campus community. Grace College also offers convenient and flexible online and hybrid-online graduate degrees and an on-campus or online degree completion program. The newest initiative—Grace College Weber School—is a highly-affordable, easily-accessible two-year degree program in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Grace has historically been among the top schools of its size and listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges. The Princeton Review has regularly awarded it the title of a “Best Midwestern College.”  The 180-acre main campus is located in the historic resort town of Winona Lake, near Warsaw, Indiana.

(right to left) Chris Merrick, Three Broom Sticks Cook in Harry Potter Village; Nate Patton, Twister Ride Operator












Joy Itiola, Comic Strip Cafe











Sarah Roe, Dervish and Banges Gift Shop in Harry Potter Village






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