As the summer draws to a close, seven members of the HWS community can proudly say that theirs was a summer well-spent. These students recently shared their experiences with the summer AmeriCorps program. Through their hard work and dedication in the Geneva community, these seven students contributed an astonishing total of 2,100 hours as volunteers.
“Often students find they want to stay in Geneva over the summer,” said Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers at a closing ceremony held in the Seneca Room on Wednesday. “When the opportunity arises to leverage students to stay – and help – we are excited. It’s wonderful to keep our Geneva partnerships going throughout the summer.”
President Mark D. Gearan commended the students for their exemplary work as members of the both the HWS and Geneva communities. “As President of the Colleges, Chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service and as a member of the Geneva community, I am proud,” said Gearan, who also extended a thank you to the Geneva community partners who, with time and effort, helped HWS students learn and feel even more at home.
“These internships were hugely consequential,” said Gearan. “You all make such a difference. It truly shows that service can be a solution and that it is worth the investment. “
Ashley Yang ’11 worked at Geneva High School with students in 9th through 11th grade who had failed the Social Studies Regents exam or the course. She also worked at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I learned that some students walked a long distance to get to school, and some of those students didn’t have breakfast – I was really made aware of problems I hadn’t thought of before,” remarked Yang. “It’s changed how I interact with students.”
Yang views the experience as a way to prepare for her student teaching placement in Waterloo School District this fall.
Bradley Umble ’12 recounted his time interning at the Smith Opera House this summer. He created Facebook and Twitter pages for the Smith and he maintained the venue’s website. In addition, he also helped coordinate volunteers for the Arts Triathlon and designed a survey that will help the Smith create programming in the future.
“I really enjoyed working there. The experience convinced me that I do have the ability to succeed in the music industry,” said Umble. “Above all, it taught me that the Smith could not run without volunteers.”
Kara Ruskin ’12, who helped with after school programming and health education at the West Street Elementary School in Geneva, was amazed at how much she learned from the program – and from the kids themselves.
“This was the ‘Wow’ moment in my career at school,” explained Ruskin. “I was able to apply all of my work and research on health education.” Ruskin will have the opportunity to present her work on the Obesity Prevention Initiative to the Finger Lakes Health Board next month.
Megan Van Dorp ’13 detailed how grateful she was for her time at the Rural and Migrant Ministry in Lyons where she developed a crash-course Survival English program for migrant workers to learn basic English.
Lauren Schwarzenberg ’12 was able to use her studio arts and architecture skills to create interactive materials for students at West Street Elementary. She also served as the fine arts coordinator at the Goodman Street Boys and Girls Club, helping to get kids interested in higher education. “I feel more educated as I work on my honors project and as I begin my career as an industrial designer.”
Kian Williams ’13 spoke of her experience at Happiness House the Geneva and Canandaigua. Although at first she was hesitant to spend her summer in Geneva, her hours volunteering turned into one of the best experiences of her life.
“I never thought I would cry, but I did,” said Williams of her last day at the Happiness House. “I thought I would be lonely this summer, but I ended up with a family. I learned how much Happiness House means to this community. Three hundred hours was just too little time.”
The students will also share their experiences with parents, families and fellow students during Family Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 22.
In the photos above, Director Katie Flowers opens the summer-end forum; Ashley Yang presents her service work; and Lauren Schwarzenberg receives congratulations from President Mark D. Gearan.