Ashley Cochrane has been named the new director of Berea College’s Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS). Cochrane’s promotion comes after having served as associate director for service-learning and community service for the last four years. She began working at CELTS as service-learning coordinator in 2003.
As director, Cochrane provides leadership for Berea College’s community service and academic service-learning programs. Each year, approximately forty percent of Berea College students serve in the community through work with local schools and non-profit organizations, academic service-learning courses, and student-led volunteer programs, including: Habitat for Humanity, Berea Buddies (mentoring elementary school students), Adopt-a-Grandparent, Berea Teen Mentoring , and the HEAL program (environmental advocacy), among others.
“The service and service-learning work that students do through CELTS is at the heart of Berea College’s mission,” says Cochrane. “I am privileged to work with a skilled and committed team of staff, students, faculty and community leaders; we work together to develop opportunities for students to serve, learn and develop skills of civic engagement.”
CELTS connects students, faculty, and staff with community organizations to design programs dedicated to addressing community issues. Service and service-learning experiences provide students with the opportunity to make connections between academic course content and community issues in Appalachia and beyond.
Service-learning courses are taught in more than twenty disciplines across campus, and more than 200 students participate in community service each year. Community partners include non-profit agencies, community organizations and schools. These organizations work in different ways to provide needed services, promote greater educational and economic opportunities for the Appalachian region, address poverty issues, and work toward a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.
In keeping with the college’s strong history of service, faculty have been connecting their teaching with community service and students have been involved in outreach throughout the college’s 156-year history. Berea College’s formal service-learning program came into being along with the establishment of CELTS in 2000. Since that time, service-learning has become a significant feature of the academic program at Berea College. CELTS and Berea College have been recognized nationally for the service and service-learning programs.
A licensed professional clinical counselor, Cochrane began her service-inspired journey as a college student volunteer. She continued as an AmeriCorps*VISTA and then as a community organizer in West Virginia. In 2002, she became a Mental Health Specialist with Comprehensive Care Center, part of the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health – Mental Retardation Board, Inc. Cochrane earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and religious studies from the University of Virginia in 1995. She earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2001.