At a Board of Trustees meeting earlier this year, former Chancellor Matthew Goldstein proposed a collaboration between the University network and organizations around New York in light of Hurricane Sandy and its devastating impact on the city. The result: CUNY Service Corps.
With 800 spots available and fifteen hundred applicants, the program began selecting students earlier this year. One hundred and fifty of those initial spots now belong to Queens College students. The Service Corps is a program that offers students the chance to get involved in activities that aim to better the urban, financial and ecological conditions of New York.
The program also allows students to gain real world experience by offering a wage and when possible, college credit.
To be considered sincere candidates, students were said to have to demonstrate an interest in helping “neighborhoods, people and/or organizations” along with a background in volunteerism.
Mustafa Mirza, a junior at QC, stated that he wanted to join the Service Corps because he wanted to make steps towards making New York an economically stronger city, particularly Queens.
“In Queens, there are little employment opportunities,” he said.
Aspiring to work in finance, Mirza added that when he reaches his desired field as a data analyst, he would analyze the percentage of people who are unemployed and use such information to continue to help New York..
Though all the Service Corps participants displayed inclinations to help, the way in which students wanted to help was as varied as their diverse backgrounds.
Rebecca Chan, a sophomore at QC, stated that she had volunteering experience in the past, particularly in high school. Rebecca expressed an interest in both business and teaching math.
“A lot of kids don’t like math. Teachers spoon feed them and expect an immediate answer without letting them think,” she said.
Rebecca suggested an alternate means of teaching by being there for students facing difficulty, but allowing them to think about and develop a thought process.
Each student was matched with a participating organization, which included Citizens Committee for New York City, Animal Care and Control of New York City, the YMCA and The Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The Service Corps allows both experts in their field and students to work together. Barbara Thompson, a representative of the Corps, stated that the benefits of choosing students who were not yet experts in their field was that it helped students connect to their “civic engagement desires.” Thompson further added that the program would provide students with different sets of competencies that will not only help them in college, but also in their lives.