Year: Graduated (May 2012)
Major: Economics, Environmental Studies, Geography
- Pursing a Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management at the University of Oregon
- Served as both a member and leader of the Student Volunteer Center (SVC)
- Spent six weeks in Thailand through a service-learning study abroad program
- Participated on the Center for Civic Engagement's community advisory board
- Volunteered through Hinman College Practicum in Leadership and Community Service
My very first experiences volunteering at Binghamton University were through the Student Volunteer Center (SVC) and the Hinman College Practicum in Leadership and Community Service. These experiences were wonderful as a new student because they gave me the opportunity to explore my interests and introduced me to a community that was at first very unfamiliar. Through the support of my Hinman faculty master and Practicum instructor, finding ways to get involved was not at all difficult. I can remember attending my first general interest meeting for the Student Volunteer Center as I was very impressed by their leadership and the purpose of the organization, which was to meet unaddressed volunteer needs within the local community, promote service, and to make volunteer opportunities as accessible to students as possible. One of the things I have enjoyed most about my volunteer work here at Binghamton has been that I have seen it bring so many, seemingly, different people together. In the realm of service, it does not matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, or what philosophy you might hold because everyone can serve.
What kinds of volunteer experiences have you had here, and what organizations have you worked with?
I have worked with more organizations than I can recall. A great thing about having been a member of the Student Volunteer Center and a leader within that organization was that I have been exposed to a multitude of different community projects and community needs. I have been involved in some very fun community festivities as well. Such experiences have given me a much greater sense of what happens here in Binghamton and what this place is all about. One of my favorite, or most memorable, volunteer events took place at the Johnson City Senior Center. In my experience, nursing homes, senior living facilities, and senior centers have been quite welcoming and receptive places for students to work. This particular memory was made when a group of students and I assisted at the Senior Center’s dinner event. We left slightly before the event had ended, and as the group of us approached the door, a band that was there providing the entertainment stopped playing. All of the seniors, at least 100 of them in the room, then smiled, turned around to look at us, started clapping, and said “thank you” while waving goodbye. We were all touched, and we felt very welcome. We saw that our work was appreciated. It was a fun day with the seniors, but they made it extra special for us. As a student, it made me feel like a real member of the community and taught me that in service you are likely to receive far more than you give.
Describe any experiences you've had working with the CCE.
I have had a very enjoyable experience serving on the Center for Civic Engagement’s community advisory board during the past two years. My student group, SVC, and the other organizations that I have been involved with have also found the Center to be an invaluable source of support and a great resource. Friends of mine who have done work in the community, taking part in internships as volunteer coordinators or providing direct volunteer service have also received substantial support from the CCE. My work with this office has definitely inspired me to continue doing similar work in the future.
Why do you think it is important for students to become civically engaged?
I think that civic engagement, particularly in college, is important because it provides students with the opportunity to learn valuable lessons and think about where we stand in our communities, while simultaneously evaluating our roles in those communities. As we each “grow up” and leave college to become professionals in our respective fields, we are entrusted with a great deal of power and responsibility. The power, resources, and knowledge that we wield as college graduates enable us to substantially impact the surrounding world. While our impact can be both positive and negative, I think that civic engagement and the learning that occurs through service introduces us to the world in a way that helps us to make our contributions, ultimately, positive.