College students are not typically a common sight on the grounds of a nursing home, but after Goshen College started its new Maple Fellows program in collaboration with Greencroft, they will start making more appearances. 

Last spring, a group of six students began working as volunteers at Greencroft to gain additional career experience and new personal insights. Although they were volunteers, through the college, they received a scholarship for each semester they worked and a stipend to cover other expenses. 

Maple Fellows is the first program of its kind at GC, originating from the Career Networks office with the goal of giving students in any field a place to find work they are interested in before graduating. 

Wendy Hernandez, a sophomore nursing student, was thrilled with her decision to take part in the program, as it expanded her own career options. “I always wanted to work in pediatrics,” Hernandez said, “but this opened my eyes to a whole new population.”

Brenton Pham, another participant, agreed that it broadened his horizons. As a writing major, he was not sure what to expect when starting out, but got involved in assisting with dining and eventually qualified as a Certified Nursing Assistant. 

Even though he does not plan to continue working as a nurse in the future, Pham believes “working with the older residents has made me a more kind and empathetic person.”

David Kendall, GC’s coordinator of the program, explained that although the program is in its infancy, things are constantly improving.

“It was all about giving students good experiences and getting students across all departments a chance to get a jumpstart on their careers,” Kendall said.

Hernandez and Pham were in agreement, as both of them described their time at Greencroft as a “great experience,” and one that they would recommend to other students to take part in, regardless of their major. 

The program is set to resume this year with many previous students continuing with their positions at Greencroft and in the program, and a new group of students will also be getting started this year.