“A Four-Year Journey” – Kat Hauver ’22

I was introduced to Community-Based Learning in my Montserrat course, Death and Dying. My classmates and I volunteered at various hospice homes in Worcester; my site was Rose Monahan Hospice Home. Although it was unlike anything I had ever experienced,  I immediately felt connected to the site. I found it incredibly meaningful to spend time with this population, so I continued volunteering through my sophomore year. When Covid hit, my time at Rose Monahan came to an end. Because nursing and hospice homes did not allow in-person volunteering, in my junior year, I volunteered virtually with St. Mary Healthcare Center. Once a week, I would Facetime my resident and we would talk for hours. As hard as it is for me to believe I am already a senior, I knew during my senior year that I wanted to incorporate my unique experiences at Rose Monahan and St. Mary’s with my sociology major. This year, I am writing my sociology honors thesis on the emotional labor of volunteers in different hospice homes. In my Montserrat class, I heard many different perspectives of volunteers depending on the facility they were volunteering at. I used this thought to come up with the question of how the volunteer experience is different in different locations. I’m using Hochschild’s concept of emotional labor, which describes how workers must express or elicit particular feelings as part of their occupations. I will compare the volunteers’ experiences at different hospice homes to gain an understanding of their emotions while volunteering. I am continuing to volunteer at Rose Monahan and am doing an internship through the Academic Internship Program at St. Mary’s. While the sites are very different, I enjoy my time at both of them, for I learn different things at each of them. There’s very little research about how hospice care differs across these different types of settings, so I am hoping to help fill a research gap. I think one of the best things about CBL is the ability to connect what you are learning inside of the classroom with the world outside of the classroom. For example, it is one thing for me to read scholarly articles on volunteering, but it adds a whole new dimension to actually be at the sites volunteering. I am grateful for CBL for introducing me to a field I feel passionate about, and I am very excited to continue to work on my thesis and learn more about volunteering from past and current volunteers. 

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