For William Smith junior Ryan Kincaid, the “Building Bridges” project idea began last semester when she took a class called Civil Rights Education with Assistant Professor of Education Khuram Hussain. Kincaid’s final project entailed researching an agent of change that resulted in a positive impact on the local community.
Kincaid heard about a Syracuse University program, formerly called “Roots & Wings,” from Assistant Professor of Education Mary Kelly and decided to find out more. In the program, college students worked with 4th and 5th graders to learn about the community.
“I latched onto the idea of going into the community, working with local kids, and studying a variety of topics, and decided I really wanted a program like that in Geneva,” she said. The name she came up with “Building Bridges” symbolizes the links between one’s past, present, and future.
Kincaid is an honorary board member for Success for Geneva’s Children, a group of people involved in government, schools and various organizations in Geneva that work to help area children. From meeting with this group, Kincaid learned that there was a need for a program to help students who are transitioning from middle to high school. In the Building Bridges program, HWS students are paired with 7th and 8th grade students from Geneva Middle School.
“Hobart and William Smith students are each paired up with a middle school student and it has been amazing,” said Kincaid. “The middle school students are incredibly understanding, enthusiastic and flexible which is great since the program is just getting off the ground. I am quite pleased with both the current program and the prospects for the future. “
So far, the Building Bridges group has visited the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva Historical Society, the Finger Lakes Institute and the photography studio of Neil Sjoblom’75 to discuss topics such as agriculture, history, conservation, artistic creativity, medicine, and more. In addition, HWS students meet the middle school students two times per week – one is spent on campus and the other is spent in the community. On a third day each week, the middle school students meet with a teacher at the middle school to connect activities, discussions, and presentations with their in-class learning.
“In upcoming semesters I will work to expand the program, and Building Bridges will be an umbrella title under which many other programs will sit,” she said.
The first photo was taken by Photographer Neil Sjoblom’75 when the group visited his studio as part of the Building Bridges program.The second photo was taken on campus when students met in Saga.