Each semester, members of the Hobart and William Smith community dedicate their free time to helping the Geneva community – volunteering at schools, clubs and organizations across the city. However, some students go above and beyond normal volunteering duties, and each year, students from the Colleges are invited to serve as honorary members on many local boards.
“Our Compass model strives to promote the ideals of engaged citizenship, and we believe that this honorary board leadership program provides a very tangible way for our students to feel what it truly means to be an engaged citizen,” says Director of Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers. “The members of these boards do so much to make our community run, we really want our students to learn from them and see all that they do to make Geneva a wonderful and vibrant place.”
Emily Hamburger ’13, an arts and education major, serves as a member of the Geneva Theatre Guild board. Hamburger joined the board last spring due to her involvement with Professor of Education Pat Collins’ production of “The Laramie Project.”
As part of her position, Hamburger is routinely asked to share her ideas and suggestions to improve the theater community in Geneva. “I’ve loved getting to know members of the Geneva theatre community,” says Hamburger. “They have all been so welcoming to me.”
Pearl Kerber ’13, an environmental studies major who is also pursuing a minor in theater, also participates as an honorary member of the Geneva Theatre Guild board, which she has been involved with since her sophomore year at the Colleges. Following her work as stage manager for “The Laramie Project,” William Smith Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig invited Kerber to share her perspective on theater with guild members.
As a member, Kerber is appreciative of the insight into the world of theater. “I love that I get to see the workings behind an organization and to see all of the different aspects that work together to make it run,” explains Kerber. “It is a great experience, especially in the theater field because there are many areas that need expertise guidance in order to run a successful show. Theater is also about problem solving, which takes place a lot at board meetings.”
Hannah Hood ’12, a comparative literature major who is currently enrolled in the teacher certification program and will return to the Colleges next year as an MAT student, serves as an honorary member on the Geneva Reads board. Her term is part of her role as Civic Leader for Literacy overseeing the America Reads program.
While serving the board, Hood oversees the community bookshelves, keeping them stocked and organized. Throughout the Geneva community, there are many such shelves that allow children to take home a book – a service that is made possible through donations.
“I love filling the shelves in the community. When I open a box of books and start putting them on the shelves there is always one child ready and waiting to see what I have,” says Hood. “The children at the Boys and Girls Club at Goodman Street love to help me put them out because they get the first chance at seeing what is there.”
Being a member of the Geneva Reads board also provides Hood with the opportunity to stay connected to literacy related events and programs throughout the community.
“I love getting to know many of the influential members of the Geneva Reads board,” explains Hood, who praises the work done through programs such as Books at Birth, Bookfest and Community Reads. “The people who come to the meeting each week are really dedicated to bringing literacy to Geneva and making an impact of the literacy of children.”
Juliana Freier ’12, a biology and environmental studies double major, has spent the academic year sitting as an honorary member of the Geneva Rotary Club Board. Because of her role as the president of the HWS Rotaract Club last semester – and now as the club’s co-president – Freier was asked to provide her perspective on the organization. Each meeting, Freier shares Rotaract’s activities and events, and works with board members on potential collaborations between the two clubs.
Her term has also allowed her to see the inner workings of a local organization working to benefit the community as a whole, providing her with insight into the amount of work that goes on “behind the scenes” of such an organization.
“My favorite part of serving on the board is being able to link the Rotaract Club on campus with the local Geneva Rotary Club,” explains Freier. “Having that connection and being able to share what both of our clubs are doing to serve the community is fantastic.”
In the photos above, Hannah Hood reads to children as part of Geneva Reads, and Juliana Freier receives an award from the Rotary Club.