Makayla Pydych ’19, MAT’20 has been involved with the Geneva community since her first semester on campus. Now, in her final semester as an undergraduate, she has been honored for her commitment to service with the Lisa S. Steinberg ’91 Memorial Service Award. The prize is awarded to a William Smith student in memory of Steinberg’s generous ethic of service and her profound commitment to making the world a better place.
An education and English major, Pydych serves as the Civic Leader for Literacy for the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). In this position, she helps facilitate the America Reads program, including 10 site coordinators, 75 tutors and more than 75 schoolchildren at five sites in the Geneva, N.Y., area. America Reads, a community-based literacy project, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
“Being involved with CCESL and America Reads so early really carved my path,” she says, noting that what she learned as a community volunteer translates to her work with children in the classroom. She’s grateful to Katie Flowers, director of CCESL, and Geneva 2020 program manager Amy Jackson Sellers for their guidance. “I’ve always had a lot of passion and energy,” she says. “They helped me learn how to focus it.”
Pydych previously served as an intern with Geneva 2020, and worked with Sellers on Geneva Writes, an initiative that integrates writing into all aspects of academic life for students in the Geneva City School District. The program was inspired by the National Writing Project Conference that Pydych attended in June, along with Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Hannah Dickinson and Writing and Teaching/Learning Specialist Susan Hess ’85.
Flowers noted Makayla’s tireless and infectious energy and her love of the children as among the reasons she was selected for the Lisa S. Steinberg ’91 Memorial Service Award. Pydych says community service work comes naturally. “I saw so many people in my life who made a difference. Why wouldn’t I do the same?”
Pydych’s on-campus activities include The Herald, club rugby and club ice hockey, Dean’s list and Laurel Society. She will return to campus in the fall to begin her studies for her MAT, with a goal of becoming a high school English teacher.