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Chelsea Ortiz Gains Skills for Medical Career through Service-Learning

For Chelsea Ortiz, a junior majoring in chemistry with a minor in psychology, the “big picture” has always been going to medical school.

But during her first year at VCU, she enrolled in a section of Focused Inquiry that was taught by Assistant Professor Jamie Fueglein. The course was a service-learning course.

“I had no clue what service-learning was or how it would impact my life,” she said. “Little did I know, that service-learning would eventually teach me the skills that I will need as a doctor - empathy, passion, patience - skills I would have never developed solely in the classroom.”

Since taking the service-learning course her first year, Ortiz has continued to develop her community engagement, serving for four semesters as a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant (SLTA) for Fueglein’s service-learning courses.

“The class works in Carver Elementary School with a program called Carver Promise, which provides mentoring so each student gets one-on-one interaction to work on math, reading, problem solving skills and to just have someone to talk to,” Ortiz said. “When I hear a student ask me if I can come extra days, I can’t help but smile, because I know that I am making a difference in the children’s lives and that they look forward to our time together.”

For more information on Ortiz’s work with Carver Promise, view the video her service-learning class created. For more information about service-learning or the SLTA program, contact Katie Elliott, associate director of service-learning, at