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GCU Rocks: Gen Ed Students Participate in Kindness Rocks Project

Female students smiling next to positivity rocks.

This spring, Nancy Sardone, Ph.D., associate professor of education, offered her GEN400 students an exciting way to fulfill their service learning requirement—the GCU Kindness Rocks Project.

GCU Kindness Rocks was inspired by the nationwide Kindness Rocks Project, founded by Megan Murphy, a kindness advocate and women’s empowerment coach. The project has a simple mission to convey positive messages to others “at the just the right moment,” according to its Web site.

Dr. Sardone’s students began by decorating smooth stones with inspirational words and sayings, which were placed around campus to be discovered by passersby. The students also came up with the ideas for an Instagram account, @gcurocksproject. Hashtags such as #gcurocksproject and #gcurocks allowed others to easily become involved with the project.

E-mails, photos, and comments on the Instagram account reveal that the project was a success, uplifting and delighting the campus community. Students of several majors, including education, business, and sociology, participated in the project. Dr. Sardone explained that GCU Kindness Rocks was unique as a service learning project because it required students to work together as a unit.

Kindness Rocks featured

In their written reflections, her students agreed that the project had positive effects on themselves as well as others.

“What I gained from this project was starting small still does great things,” said student Kimberly Bonner.

Another student, Jessica Logan, wrote, “I have taken away an appreciation of the simplicity of the act of service.” She said she envisions emulating the project in her student teaching.

Student Ali Garbolino stated that the project motivated her to “explore other service learning opportunities.” Student Amanda Panariello wrote, “It made me feel proud that something I was involved in changed the days, and hopefully weeks, of my peers and classmates.”

Service and compassion are core components of a Georgian Court education, and GCU Kindness Rocks helped Dr. Sardone’s students apply these values in an immediate and visible way.

She explained that although her students connect with the civil servants studied in class, such as women’s rights and education activist Malala Yousafzai, it can be challenging to find ways to follow in their footsteps.

GCU Kindness Rocks offered Dr. Sardone’s class a hands-on project with meaningful results, which she and her students feel can benefit future courses and college campuses.

“They were reminded of how simplistic steps create a compassionate world. They can and they could see themselves spreading a little bit of joy at a stressful time of the semester,” Dr. Sardone stated.

Story contributed by Heidi Chaya ’17.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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