Bathing 22 wet, wriggling dogs was only the beginning.

College of the Mainland students volunteered at the League City Animal Shelter, conducted a blanket drive for shelter animals, solicited donations, visited the zoo to learn about endangered animals and educated their classmates on animal abuse and neglect.

In COM professor Stacey Henderson’s Psychology for Success class at COM, education steps beyond the classroom as students research a topic they care about and get involved.

“We watched the movie ‘Pay It Forward.’ Students had to think about a cause or topic where they can pay it forward,” said professor Stacey Henderson. “We want them to have flexibility to do something they are passionate about.”

The projects allow students to implement the study and life skills that they learn in class.

“They have to apply the skills they’re learning: working together, communication skills, self management and emotional intelligence,” explained Henderson.

While one group in Henderson’s class chose to help animals, another talked to veterans to learn how to demonstrate appreciation to military members and how to best volunteer to help.

A third worked with children in need at a Head Start and at the Ronald McDonald House in Galveston. They collected donations for the Ronald McDonald House and threw a Halloween party at the home, playing bingo with the kids and dancing with the families.  

“You get there, and kids come up to you and they’re bubbly and happy,” said student Julissa Jimenez.

Students also read to children at Hitchcock Head Start once a month, an action they plan to continue.

“You need to be dedicated. They need to know you care,” said student Kayla Griffin.

Volunteering paid off in many ways, students found.

“My dog passed away a couple months ago,” said student Gary Shelton, part of the animal activism group. “My mom found Katie at the shelter. She’s been at our house for a week (as a foster dog), and my family is going to adopt Katie.”

For more information on Psychology for Success, contact Henderson at or 409-933-8134.