Where do your interests meet the world's needs?

As a university rooted in Mercy, Mercyhurst understands that service and hospitality are essential dimensions of the education of the whole individual. To accomplish this, Mercyhurst has developed Beyond the Gates (BTG), a one-credit experience that students complete in their sophomore or junior years. An essential component of the undergraduate core, BTG builds on students’ foundational understanding of the Mercy Mission, presenting service as an opportunity to challenge preconceived notions, broaden worldviews, and leave students changed for the better. 

At sites throughout the regional community and around the world, our students engage in cross-cultural learning through person-to-person interactions, meeting the needs of the community and sharing in the critical work of civic responsibility. During BTG, students complete writing projects to facilitate their reflections on their community engagement, and draw out the significance of how their work beyond the limits of campus connects with their academic study, personal development and Mercy Mission. Students often describe their BTG experiences as transformation, prompting them to find meaning in challenges, and discover something new about themselves and their world. 

The various BTG course sections offer students opportunities to pursue service experiences in areas that coincide with their academic, personal or career interests. The sections are:

Hunger and Homelessness

Students engage with soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and other locations to make a difference to people lacking access to adequate food or safe, affordable housing. 

Diversity and Inclusion

Through placements with youth, multicultural and naturalization programs, students gain an understanding of the issues facing individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

At-Risk Children and Youth

Students witness the life-changing power of education and early intervention through work with mentoring, tutoring and recreation programs that support, empower and engage at-risk youth and their families.

Health, Aging and Wellness

Engaging with elderly individuals in recreation and wellness programs encourages students to improve the lives of others while fostering compassion and human dignity. 

Fast Facts

  • Local BTG sites include Quality of Life Learning Center, the House of Mercy, the Neighborhood Art House, the Multicultural Resource Center, Brevillier Village, and the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Home

  • More than a quarter of Mercyhurst students choose to study abroad. Certain study abroad courses qualify for BTG experiences; recent BTG study abroad trips have taken students and faculty to places such as Guyana, the Galapagos islands, and Peru, to name a few

  • Part of the outREACH component of the Mercyhurst curriculum, BTG experiences expand on the principles of the iMU course students take as freshmen, and also foreshadow elements of the senior capstone experience

  • In addition to BTG-specific experiences and study abroad opportunities, students may also opt to satisfy BTG requirements through service learning programs, such as mentoring courses and Campus Ministry-sponsored 4th Vow retreats

Mercy in Practice

The Mercy Mission calls us to be:

  • Socially merciful
  • Globally responsible
  • Compassionately hospitable
  • Intellectually creative
  • Reflectively aware 
  • Ambassadors of service

BTG encourages Lakers to put Mercy into practice exercise leadership in service by giving back to the larger community. By reaching out in compassion to others, students in BTG demonstrate hospitality and embrace the diversity of humankind. These meaningful contributions to the world help our students grow in mind, body and spirit, preparing them for lives of integrity. 

A Global Education

BTG experiences are designed to transcend simple volunteerism; we’re not merely looking to meet an hour quota and check a box. BTG is about serious and deep engagement with people from different backgrounds, those with different life experiences. An education informed by these principles is excellent preparation for future careers in a global workforce. When students build a sense of civic engagement and participate in real-world collaborations, they learn how to think critically and apply academic knowledge outside the classroom.