Intersession Work

Faculty and students spend Scranton intersession having incredible experiences, here and abroad.

Dr. Scardillo's university students who participated in the Guatemala service trip.
Dr. Scardillo's university students who participated in the Guatemala service trip.

Dr. Scardillo Reflects on Intersession Service

Dr. Janette Scardillo led a service trip from Jan. 4 to Jan. 13, 2019, to Zacapa, Guatemala and other small towns in the area. We talked to her about her experience.

Describe your experience and what kind of service you did.

While in Guatemala we provided physical therapy services to the underserved population of various towns or pueblos. Services were provided both in local PT clinics as well as in various pop-up clinic settings. The trip included students and faculty from the University of Scranton, Marquette University, as well as William Carey University PT programs. We worked with the organization Hearts in Motion who provides full-time PT services in Guatemala as well as provides service opportunities for multiple universities nationally.

What inspired you to lead a service trip?

When I was a student at The University of Scranton, I participated in many different service opportunities and loved the experience, both of caring and helping others, but also learning about the human experience.  I was previously a professor at another physical therapy program and service was not something that was a high priority. I decided that my path needed to lead me back to Scranton so that I could be more involved in service both domestic and international. And when this opportunity came up, I jumped on it!

What is your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest take away from this experience was seeing the smiles and gratefulness on every face that we treated. It was also an honor to work alongside my students while they served others! All students and faculty from all three schools worked so well together and really became a family by the end of the trip.

What advice would you give to students interested in participating in a service trip?

Simply go for it! Get out of your comfort zone! The service experiences that I have done whether when I was in college or now are never something I look back on with regret. Each one has made me into the person I am today.

 Do you think you'll continue to serve in some way?

I will never stop providing service. I feel that to be able to serve others is a gift that we all have to give.

Read the student perspective here.

Intersession Grant: Degree Programs for Prisoners

Recent legislative efforts, like the First Step Act passed in December 2018 [1], have signaled an increased bipartisan interest in prison reforms, seeking to decrease massive prison warehousing and incentivize more effective re-entry. Meanwhile, prison education programs are beginning to thrive in recent years. [2]

One of the most effective ways to reduce prisoner recidivism and empower them to return to productive societal life is to earn a substantial, higher educational degree. This is boon for both intellectual formation and considerably improved job prospects. For graduates of the Bard Prison Initiative, for example, recidivism is strikingly less than 2.5 percent and employment post-release is at 85 percent within an average of three months. While there are hundreds of non-degree prison educational initiatives, like tutoring, in the United States, there are only a few universities which have generated the much more effective, official programs at a bachelor’s degree level.

Prior to my joining The University of Scranton, during the completion of my Ph.D., I was privileged to teach two semesters at the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College’s bachelor’s program at its nearby Westville Prison, the Moreau Education Initiative. And it is my hope to begin such a program here through the help of faculty and administration at The University of Scranton. Naturally, this would take a long time to build up, beginning at an associate’s level and eventually a bachelor’s. But beginning steps are being made: Through my consultation with associate dean Harry Dammer, we have found a considerable interest from not only professors on campus, but officials in the state of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and at our nearby Waymart Prison.

In Fr. Pilarz’s inauguration speech, he spoke in hopeful anticipation of our University starting “innovating new initiatives,” and that our University would be an “engine of opportunity.” I see such a prison education initiative as not only a distinguishing mark of being a leader in innovative education, fulfilling those visions, but also perfectly matched to the Jesuit mission of this University to work for justice and generously extend the benefits of higher education.


[2] Ashley Smith, “Momentum for Prison Education,” Inside Higher Ed, Nov 6, 2018:

The University of Scranton awarded faculty development intersession grants for 2019 to 11 faculty members from eight departments. Read more here.

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