Nearly 100 Lehman College students are fanning out across New York City this year to lend a helping hand. They are part of the new CUNY Service Corps, which mobilizes CUNY students, faculty, and staff to work on projects that improve the civic, economic, and environmental sustainability of New York City.
Lehman is one of seven City University of New York colleges taking part in the initiative, which is in its inaugural year. Students work with organizations that provide services ranging from literacy to health care to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Freshman Elizabeth Walsh is working with LIFT New York, a non-profit dedicated to lifting people out of poverty and helping them achieve economic stability. It is a perfect fit for Elizabeth, who spent a decade in banking before returning to Lehman College to studying history and high school education.
“The best part of my job at the bank were the corporate initiatives in the community,” said Elizabeth. “I’ve always liked to help people, so I would get involved in organizing fundraisers at churches or schools, and other community engagement efforts.”
In addition to her full course load, Elizabeth works two days a week at LIFT. She sees several clients a day, where she helps them with issues such as job placement and resume writing to housing and benefit applications. The goals of the CUNY Service Corps are three-fold: for students to make a meaningful difference through service while gaining valuable real-world work experience; for faculty and staff to apply their expertise in addressing the city’s biggest challenges; and for residents, communities, and sponsors to benefit from the CUNY Service Corps projects.
The program is organized around themes that represent both opportunity and need: health and wellness, sustainability, education, and economic vitality. Typical assignments are 12 hours per week, for twenty-four weeks over two semesters. Corps members are paid and may earn college credit.
“It’s really a big initiative for Lehman and CUNY,” said Elizabeth.
Junior Scott Davis is working with Year Up New York, an organization that offers a one-year, intensive training program to provide low-income young adults with hands-on skill development, college credits, and corporate internships.
“I’ve been able to meet people and develop my professional skills, while helping others develop their own,” said Scott, who is majoring in political science and hopes to attend law school or work toward a Ph.D.
“With CUNY Service Corps, we’re representing the University, Lehman College, and ourselves,” he continued. “My hope is to live up to those expectations and feel like I’ve achieved something.”