Last April, I sat on the floor of my forced triple in Fenwick Hall, frantically typing codes into UIS in search of two more classes I could register for to fill my sophomore year schedule. With each minute that passed, another course closed, and I became more and more convinced that I’d be stuck with taking just the nine credits. Then, my friend posed a solution: sign up for PULSE. I had never thought seriously about taking the course, but it didn’t seem like a bad option. I enjoyed service, I had the time, and I had to fulfill my philosophy and theology core at some point. So, I registered for PULSE on a whim and more or less fell into the program, not knowing the extent to which it would have an impact on me, my views, and my studies.
I am usually not one to rave about and recommend a course incessantly. However, after my year in PULSE, I feel as if it is my duty to advocate on its behalf. The program allowed me to question my preexisting beliefs, love more, and better understand the true essence of service. If you’re looking to fill your philosophy/theology core requirement in the most rewarding way possible, take PULSE.
Reflecting upon my year of service, it is no exaggeration to say that the course not only taught me to act differently, but also taught me to think differently—far from what I expected to gain from my sophomore year. Come to think of it, my prediction about PULSE before classes had started was as follows: brush up on my Christianity knowledge and have fun at my service placement. It was elementary, I know. Luckily, what I found was so much more—an entirely new love of learning and deeper passion for service that I was previously unaware of.
It is rare to find a single course that may be credited with making its students better people. With the PULSE program, however, it is hard not to be positively impacted to some degree. PULSE is a learning and growing opportunity that I have yet to find with any other class, or anywhere else, and I am confident that the alternative philosophy and theology courses offered at BC do not measure up to the PULSE experience.
The obvious element of PULSE that distinguishes it from other core philosophy and theology classes is the service component, which bridges the gap between generally dry texts and actual life endeavors. It is much easier to be mindful, promote justice, and live compassionately—all notions we learn in the classroom—if there is a specified means for us to do so. With PULSE, volunteerism is the means by which students are educated about social injustice, providing a knowledge that may then be brought back to the classroom and subsequently provide students with new, challenging perspectives.
Stories from not only my service placement, but also from my classmates’ placements are what allowed my way of thinking about my life, and others’ lives, to be transformed. Without the service aspect applied to my understanding of theology and philosophy texts, I don’t think this would be the case. It takes doing, not just thinking, to recognize the full extent of social injustice and work toward cultivating a just society.
However, it is not just the mere existence of service that sets PULSE apart from alternative philosophy and theology courses—it is the time dedicated to doing so. Before this year, I didn’t prioritize service in my weekly schedule. This, in part, was due to the fact that I didn’t think I had a considerable amount of time to spend away from campus on any given day. However, serving through PULSE allowed me to face and accept the truth: I do have time to give away to others, and I should be doing so. Thus, the busy schedule I kept with PULSE enabled me to discern what I truly need to prioritize amidst the distractions that come with being a student at BC.
While the service element of PULSE is undoubtedly transformative (you inevitably learn something about yourself when spending 10-12 hours volunteering per week), the program also allows for a dynamic classroom environment.
How can I become the best version of myself? What intellectual conversions do BC students need? What are examples of public policies that should be instated to increase the probability of having a virtuous society? These are examples of daily conversation starters in PULSE class, questions that evoke rich, thought-provoking discussion with a close group of peers. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I left class feeling challenged by a new proposition, enlightened by a new idea, or thankful for those I was fortunate enough to interact with on a day-to-day basis. PULSE provides its students with deep reflection and discussion that is found in few other core-fulfilling courses at BC.
PULSE is a class that makes you want to re-read your notes for leisure. It’s a class that produces excitement at the thought of an hour-long T ride. It’s a class that pushes comfort zones, promotes love, and redefines beliefs. And above all, it’s a class that scores 10/10 for PEPS given.
On the first day of my PULSE class this year, almost everyone in my group gave “fulfilling the core” as the main reason we signed up for the course. However, during our final week of meeting as a class, it is safe to say that satisfying a requirement was the last thing on our minds. Rather, we were all trying to reason what we were going to do next year without the course, entirely grateful for the experience we had been a part of.
Though it sounds cliché to claim to have been “changed” by a class, I truly believe PULSE has made me a better person. From finding meaning in small feats to recognizing just how much I can learn from a group of middle schoolers, PULSE showed me how unexpectedly challenging, rewarding, and surprising something can be all at the same time. If you don’t believe this, look to me as evidence: I didn’t plan on taking PULSE, nor did I think it would have a large impact on my life. I was never likely to believe I could be transformed by a core requirement; yet here I am, championing for every student to take it. So, in short, sign up for PULSE. It might just change your life—or another's.