As part of a service-​​learning course on advo­cacy writing, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent Julia Hickey wrote a speech on behalf of a former prison inmate. He men­tored peers who found jobs through Haley House, the Boston-​​based non­profit orga­ni­za­tion, which, at the time, was seeking funding to rebuild its facility.

We con­ducted research about how a story and a person could con­nect people with an orga­ni­za­tion and then wrote about all the good things that Haley House had given this man,” Hickey explained to stu­dents, fac­ulty and com­mu­nity part­ners who attended a year-​​end service-​​learning cel­e­bra­tion last week in the Curry Stu­dent Center.

The expe­ri­ence, she said, extended beyond learning how to craft speeches and press releases. As Hickey put it, “I stepped out of my aca­d­emic bubble and into the pro­fes­sional world.”

Service-​​learning at North­eastern is a form of expe­ri­en­tial learning that links aca­d­emic courses to community-​​based organizations. Students engage in hands-​​on ser­vice roles and projects, applying con­cepts they learn in the class­room to address com­mu­nity needs. It’s facil­i­tated through Northeastern’s Center of Com­mu­nity Ser­vice, which acts as a clear­ing­house for ser­vice oppor­tu­ni­ties through part­ner­ships with more than 225 community-​​based agen­cies and programs.

Hickey was among more than 440 North­eastern stu­dents enrolled in more than 30 service-​​learning courses over the fall semester. During that span, stu­dents teamed up with 80 community-​​based part­ners in Rox­bury, Mis­sion Hill, South End and Fenway neigh­bor­hoods to com­plete more than 13,000 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice as tutors, trans­la­tors, researchers, health edu­ca­tors and exer­cise instructors.

First-​​year stu­dents in Susan Freeman’s engi­neering design service-​​learning course cre­ated a sun-​​shading device for the sen­sory garden at the William Carter School, a Boston public school for stu­dents with inten­sive spe­cial edu­ca­tion and med­ical needs.

Stu­dents in their first semes­ters were so excited that they got to do engi­neering that helped some­body,” said Freeman, a mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering senior aca­d­emic spe­cialist in the Col­lege of Engi­neering. “They were over­coming obsta­cles and solving problems.”

Com­mu­nity part­ners praised the service-​​learning pro­gram for trans­forming lives — in the class­room, in the com­mu­nity and around the globe.

Jer­rell Cox, director of the Out of School Time pro­grams for United South End Set­tle­ments, praised North­eastern stu­dents for their reli­a­bility, ded­i­ca­tion and pro­fes­sion­alism in helping chil­dren with their home­work and taking them to base­ball games, where they received auto­graphs from their favorite players.

I can’t express how service-​​learning at North­eastern has helped our pro­gram grow,” Cox said.