As part of an experience-based learning class, Developing a Professional Presence, Robert Morris University Illinois students at the Waukegan campus are becoming involved in their greater community through a Citizenship Project.  Each student completes a service internship with a local non-profit organization, and Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Bluff provides the perfect opportunity.

Bernie’s is an organization that “sources, processes and distributes quality children’s books to increase book ownership among at-risk children throughout Chicagoland.”  It was founded by Brian Floriani, son of Dr. Bernard Floriani, a reading educator who spent his entire life promoting literacy. The story of how Bernie’s Book Bank grew to provide over 10 million books to at-risk children can be found on the website,

Over the ten-week quarter, RMU students will each volunteer 14 hours of service at Bernie’s.  “This service project gives our students the opportunity to experience working as a team, reporting to a supervisor, managing their time and completing the course requirements,” explained Carrie Roath Ernst, director of Student Professional Engagement at Robert Morris. “Additionally, working as a volunteer may be a new experience for some students.  We hope it encourages a lifelong resolution to give back to one’s community through service.”

The Citizenship Project is one of the first internship-type experiences required of Robert Morris students throughout their college careers.  As students enter their junior and senior years, they are expected to complete at least one internship that prepares them for work in their selected course of study.  “Internships are essential to each program at Robert Morris,” continued Ms. Roath Ernst.  “Becoming familiar with a real-world work environment, learning the expectations employers have of new hires, and experiencing the process of applying techniques and knowledge acquired in the classroom – these abilities all make RMU graduates better prepared for not just a job, but a career.”