Swellar Zhuo ’19 and Jacqueline Bange ’19 have been accepted into Rochester Youth Year (RYY). An Americorps VISTA sponsored program, RYY offers recent college graduates a year of full-time employment with a local community organization that combats issues of educational, economic and social equity.
Zhuo, a writing and rhetoric and sociology double major, will work at the Urban Choice Charter School, expanding the school’s volunteer program and its fundraising capacity.
“I hope to add value and expand the work done by previous AmeriCorps VISTA participants, meeting the needs of Urban Choice Charter School,” says Zhuo, of Woodside, N.Y., the recipient of the Community Engaged Student Scholar of the Year award. “I am excited to start applying the skills I have acquired to do meaningful work.”
A sociology major with a women’s studies minor, Bange will work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester. “I’ll be helping to develop an outreach plan for the community and to build sustainable corporate and community partnerships within Rochester,” says Bange, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honors society.
Bange, of Dolgeville, N.Y., also looks forward to living in Rochester. “I’ve learned that Rochester is a unique place with many problems—and many opportunities for change,” she says. “I’m excited to be a part of that change and experience city life firsthand.”
Zhuo adds her work with the Geneva Women’s Assembly, a community- driven initiative, taught her “what it means to be a critical-thinking, active citizen.” Bange adds, “[My sociology classes] encouraged me to become more informed about issues, think through potential strategies for improvement and motivated me to help bring about change.”
Previous HWS alums accepted into the RYY include Graham Hughes ’17, Hilda Agyekum ’18 and Aidan Ely ’18.
Working with RYY organizations can be life-changing, says Hughes. Following his year of RYY service with the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), he became a staff member with the organization, and helped develop a participatory budgeting process to determine how to spend $200,000 on anti-poverty programs and projects. This fall, Hughes will begin a graduate program at University of Toronto in adult education and community development.
“Rochester Youth Year enabled me to discover how I want to make a positive impact in the world,” says Hughes. “The support and guidance the staff provided me, the solidarity and friendship I shared with my fellow cohort members, and the chance to continue learning and growing through a year of service have been invaluable in the professional success I have had thus far and the bright future I see for myself ahead. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Rochester Youth Year.”
RYY is administered by the Rochester Regional Network, a consortium of eight regional colleges, which HWS joined in 2016. To date, 108 fellows have completed a year of service. Since 2008, service members have mobilized more than 7,000 community volunteers, who in turn have logged 91,000 hours of service. RYY fellows have generated more than $3.2 million in cash and in-kind resources for projects in the community.
Zhuo and Bange are two of six 2019 HWS graduates who will be working with AmeriCorps next year. Profiles of the other recipients will continue to be published on the HWS Update throughout the summer and fall semester. They join an impressive cohort of Hobart and William Smith alums dedicating a year to supporting underserved communities throughout the United States.