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First-year students live the charisms during Orientation Day of Service
Even though a steady rain greeted more than 500 Misericordia University students, faculty and staff for the 4th annual Orientation Day of Service on Aug. 23, it did not dampen the enthusiasm of first-year and transfer students for learning and living the university’s mission of providing service to others in need.

The 446 first-year students and 103 transfer students participated in service work at eight locations in the Back Mountain, including the Back Mountain Trail, Blue Chip Farms, Camp Orchard Hill, Frances Slocum State Park, Luzerne County Fairgrounds, Meadows Nursing Center, Mercy Center and The Lands at Hillside Farms. The students and their faculty and staff chaperones were tasked with painting, shoveling, repairing, sprucing up and also simply being a shoulder to lean on for others.

At The Lands at Hillside Farms, for instance, students picked up shovels and rakes to clean out barns in preparation for the fall and winter seasons. They used gas-powered log splitters on stumps and then stacked the wood. Residents of Mercy Center and Meadows Nursing Center received more visitors and attention than they are accustomed to normally as the students visited with them one-on-one and participated in bingo and other activities.

These service opportunities are more important than ever this year, as Misericordia celebrates its 90th anniversary ( The Religious Sisters of Mercy established the first four-year institution of higher education in Luzerne County in 1924 based on the tenets of Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality. The University has grown to become regionally acclaimed and nationally recognized due to its challenging academics, personalized attention and imbuing in students a sense of service to others.

“It is important for our students to know that we live our mission – big and small – every day at Misericordia,’’ said Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D., president of Misericordia University. “We are a community that learns, lives and gives together. The Day of Service familiarizes our new students with the regional communities that comprise the Back Mountain and it also reinforces the importance of service to others.’’

Community Outreach at Misericordia University organized the volunteer activities for the 500 strong volunteers and split them into morning and afternoon sessions. At the end of the day, it was clear that the goal of the annual event was well received.

“It is amazing to hear the students talk about their experiences and to see their faces when they return to campus after spending time at our service sites,’’ said Kristen M. Samuels, M.S.W., Community Outreach coordinator. “The excitement is palpable. Three days into the academic year and many of them already want to know how they can give more back here in our local community and elsewhere.

“It is especially rewarding to me because I get to spend the next four years or longer working with these students for the betterment of underserved communities,’’ adds Samuels. “Campus Ministry and Community Outreach takes our students around the country and around the globe so they can live the Misericordia way, while oftentimes getting to apply their classroom lessons in real-world scenarios. These service opportunities benefit our global community, but also help our students personally, academically and eventually professionally.’’

Misericordia University’s first-year class features students from 12 states, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The class also includes two international students from Saudi Arabia.

The second largest first-year class brings the university’s overall enrollment to a record 3,141 students.