Faculty like Case leverage persistence, innovation, and Purdue resources to create reciprocal relationships with community partners addressing societal challenges.

A champion for service-learning

Amanda Case strives to stimulate a cycle of mutually beneficial collaborations in her work. So it is no surprise that Case is a champion for service-learning and catalyzes engagement projects in myriad forms.

In 2021, Case, assistant professor of counseling psychology, was honored as a Purdue Office of Engagement Service-Learning Fellow for her work facilitating the course Assessing Literacy Afterschool and her collaborations with Christy Wessel-Powell, assistant professor of literacy and language education, and the Downtown Boxing Gym (DBG) in Detroit, Michigan.

The result was a service-learning course that enabled students to work alongside DBG staff to design and conduct culturally and developmentally appropriate assessment materials for students at DBG, aligning with DBG’s mission to promote youth well-being and educational access, especially for marginalized youth.


Downtown Boxing Gym

Nearly a decade partnering with the Detroit Downtown Boxing Gym

Case said her strong relationship with the DBG, played an important part in the success of the project: “I’ve been working with the DBG since 2013 and have done a variety of projects with them, all emerging from conversations about what they need.” Case said her partnership with DBG is so well established at this point that they have multiple projects going on at once — a level of engagement she feels everyone interested in service-learning should strive for.

Downtown Boxing Gym, Detroit, Michigan

Case shared she feels work like this is crucial, not only because of what they were able to accomplish, but also because of the growth and benefits stimulated for everyone involved in the project. “We were able to fulfill the need at the gym, our students were able to learn how to create culturally appropriate assessments, and my colleague and I were able to use our expertise to guide this process while learning a lot along the way,” said Case.

“It is about so much more than just the gym, or just my part in it,” said Case. “We’re all collaborators.”

Downtown Boxing Gym
Downtown Boxing Gym

Camp Tecumseh mental health consultations

Case highlighted this theme when she shared another of her favorite service-learning collaborations: her partnership with YMCA Camp Tecumseh. Through this partnership, she and her collaborators developed a mental health consultation module for the camp, providing much needed support for camp counselors through on-site mental health counseling.

Not only has the program created incredible impact (in its second summer, usage of the program tripled), it has also enabled Case and her team to share substantial research to carry the impact further and provided Case’s doctoral students a hands-on training opportunity bringing the services they’re learning about directly to those in need.

YMCA Camp Tecumseh

Engagement advice

When asked what advice she would give to others hoping to become engaged, Case shared “If you’re only committed to working in a partnership to fulfill your own needs, don’t do it. It will do more harm than good. Instead, reflect on why you want to do the work. Will it be mutually beneficial to all collaborators? If the answer is no, it’s not engagement. If the answer is yes, the next crucial step should be a transparent discussion of what everyone needs from the collaboration.”

Case said you shouldn’t be afraid to research new connections and initiate collaborations. Some of her most meaningful projects have come from cold calls and initial conversations that go much like “This is who I am and this is the work I do; I heard about your work, and I wonder if we can be helpful to one another.”

“Reach out,” Case said. “You have nothing to lose, but you have to be ready to commit to a full partnership.”

“It is about so much more than just the gym, or just my part in it,” said Case. “We’re all collaborators.”

With these practices, Case uses her knowledge and experience to support the outstanding work community organizations are doing, to bridge the gap between the work practitioners are doing and what is being discussed in academia in her field, and to use it all to collaboratively solve social issues.

Click to learn more about service-learning opportunities for Purdue University faculty, staff, students, and community partners.

Credit: Office of Engagement service-learning graduate teaching assistant Kayla Vasilko.

Downtown Boxing Gym 2022 Seniors