RealWorld Action Program is changed


Submitted Photo

RealWorld Career Services Executive Director Bob Knipple talks with recent Pitt-Johnstown graduate Michelle Penna in the Sudent Union’s Career Service office.

Rachel Logan, Copy Editor

After 10 years, the RealWorld Action Program’s checkboxes and tracking modules are obsolete, so that an essay alone will be considered in awarding scholarships.

No longer will students have to complete percentage of the program to be considered eligible for one of the three scholarships. All students are to be invited to enter an essay describing how they have fulfilled one or more of four program guidelines, according to RealWorld Career Services Executive Director Bob Knipple.

“This is one of the programs that (Pitt-Johnstown President Jem) Spectar established,” he said. “Prior to his arrival, they didn’t really have this emphasis.

“It was important 10 years ago, and it’s even more important now,” he said. “Employers want to see that students have been involved.”

Knipple said that the rebranded RealWorld Readiness Program asks students to get ready, get involved, make a difference and change their worlds.

Previously, the RealWorld Action Program asked students to complete four points of civic engagement and citizenship, either an internship or five points of career preparation and 80 hours total of community involvement or service.

It also asked students to be a member or leader in one campus club for collegiate involvement and complete an open-ended project addressing a global issue or cause to make a difference in the world.

Knipple said students are encouraged to keep their own records for use in resumes, as the Campus Services tracker modules are to be discontinued.

“The word ‘program’ made it sound regimented,” Knipple said. “It was us saying ‘Here are the things you need to do to have RealWorld Readiness.’”

He said that he had heard criticism from students about the checkbox system and that participants weren’t thrilled with the structured setup.

“We were kind of in the driver’s seat,” he said. “We want student’s to be in the driver’s seat.”

Knipple said that since RealWorld Scholarship application is to be open to all students, the deadline for submitting essays is to be early March or late February.

Sophomore Phoenix Stratemeier, who won the freshman-level scholarship last year, said that the change won’t affect his participation in the program.

Stratemeier said that the program’s pillars are a recipe for success.

“I was already doing everything that the program required anyway, so it would’ve been a wasted opportunity for me to not participate.”

Senior Savannah Sullivan won the highest-level scholarship last year. She said the program’s module tools made tracking her activity easy.

“I thought it was helpful to see your completion with goals in mind,” she said. “I don’t know how many service hours I do until I (track them with) something like that.”

She said that this is the second time since she’s been at Pitt-Johnstown that the program has updated.

“They used to have a calendar, and they’d count what events you went to. They don’t really count events at all anymore,” she said.