2 August 2023 Recent Grads, Students Join National Service Programs
Students and young alums are building community and opportunity.
After serving Geneva as students, several recent graduates are spending the next year contributing to community-identified projects in the city through AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism.
We’re really lucky to go to school here and be literally in the heart of the community.” Elizabeth Palumbo ’25
James Anderson '23, William Koepp '23 and Jonathan Garcia ’23 (pictured above L to R) are building career readiness and economic opportunity capacity through partnerships between Geneva High School (GHS) and the Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) and BluePrint Geneva.
Garcia is working with FLCC and GHS, supported with funding from Geneva 2030, to provide resources to prepare students for post-secondary success. He is guiding them through the admissions, financial aid and enrollment processes and offering bilingual services to Spanish-speaking students and their families.
“I’m a first-generation high school graduate and first-generation college student,” says Garcia, who notes that the support he had in the college admissions process during high school was invaluable. He hopes in turn to “help families close the knowledge gaps in the college process” and “get students ready for college, trade school or the workforce.”
Koepp, a former co-leader of HWS Days of Service, is working jointly with BluePrint Geneva and GHS to develop local internship and job shadowing opportunities, offering students summer work and exposure to future careers. Koepp is also recruiting and managing volunteers for BluePrint’s annual tax clinic, which serves residents with low-incomes to help ensure they receive their entire tax refund without filing fees.
Anderson’s focus with BluePrint Geneva is on food security issues. He is managing the new community kitchen on Wadsworth Street, providing space for local entrepreneurs to develop food startups as well as pay-what-you-can dinners several evenings per week. Anderson also oversees the public gardens and the Just Harvest food buying program, which bring local produce into the community at a weekly discounted price. Working together, Koepp and Anderson are expanding BluePrint’s summer youth employment program to bring more job opportunities to local students interested in environmental justice issues.
“Public service is a core part of who we are at HWS, and we’re proud to support our students who want to make communities stronger through programs like AmeriCorps.”
Katie Flowers, Director of Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning
Meanwhile, Lucas Amaral ’23 is serving in Connecticut with AmeriCorps’ Health Forward program, tackling health disparities and the impact of social determinants of health in underserved communities. Kennedy Jones ’24, Elizabeth Palumbo ’25 and Maeve Reilly ’23 have accepted summer positions with AmeriCorps in Western New York, Jones with Wayne County, Palumbo with BluePrint Geneva and Reilly with the United Way–YMCA.
Palumbo, who is supporting BluePrint Geneva’s food justice efforts, says her internship is “a really nice way to connect with community members. I want to see if this is something I want to do as a career but I also want to be closer to the community. We’re really lucky to go to school here and be literally in the heart of the community.”
As she helps local students find work and explore the nuances of food security issues, Palumbo says she’s learning a lot about food justice and the power of service. She says it’s “a mutual educational experience for everybody.… I hope the students have an enjoyable experience making money but also making a difference.”
“Public service is a core part of who we are at HWS, and we’re proud to support our students who want to make communities stronger through programs like AmeriCorps,” says Katie Flowers, Director of Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, one of many HWS faculty and staff who have served with AmeriCorps.
Flowers notes that as a “school of National service,” the Colleges support post-graduate and summer service by partially matching AmeriCorps Eli Segal education vouchers and when possible, providing on-campus housing.
AmeriCorps provides opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds to serve their country, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, and improve lives and communities. It was modeled on the City Year program founded by Alan Khazei L.H.D. ’15, who delivered the Colleges’ 2023 Commencement address. Hugh Bator ’23 and Samuel Barnard ’23 have each accepted positions with City Year, serving in Providence, R.I. and Los Angeles, respectively.
- Elizabeth Palumbo ’25 poses at the State Street Community Garden.
- Samuel Barnard ’23 (right) poses for photo while studying abroad in Amman, Jordan.
- Maeve Reilly ’23 (right) helped to organize a series of events at the State Street Public Garden during her summer internship last year.
- During COVID-19, Kennedy Jones ’24 tutored Geneva children virtually for through the America Reads program.
- Lucas Amaral '23
- Hugh Bator '23