Student Perspectives on Community Based Learning
By Sarah Franzetti '19
Marisa Zuleta '17 worked with the non-profit organization Family Services through the Marie and Rupert Tarver Summer Internship program. There, she worked to raise awareness about social service programs to the Spanish-speaking community in Poughkeepsie. Her efforts at Family Services created such lasting effects on the organization that she was offered a full time job after graduation. According to Ms. Zuleta, the skills she developed helped her perceive herself as an agent of change. “The best gift from the Tarver experience was my ability to advocate for a wide range of individuals by partnering with important stakeholders. The Tarver experience is like no other." Her message to current students is clear: "Allow yourself to think about things you might have previously never considered, because you will find that change in any level could be doable and worthwhile."
Drawing upon both his major in Political Science and his minor in Digital Video Production, Javier Gomez '17 worked at CCEL first as an intern, then in a paid position as a Community Based Learning Coordinator . This experience helped him land an internship in the office of City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison. Having graduated in May 2017, Mr. Gomez now works in an AmeriCorps/VISTA position with United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region on poverty initiatives in Newburgh, NY. Describing his experiences at CCEL, Mr. Gomez noted that “Everything I’ve done here matters. It matters to Marist, it matters to Poughkeepsie, and it matters to me. The sense of purpose I received from working at the CCEL is really important, because this job always challenged me,”
Environmental Science major Ian Krout '18 worked as a Summer 2017 Tarver Intern in partnership with Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, which aims to educate people about the environmental issues facing the Hudson River. Ian applied his research to what will eventually become an exhibit at Norrie Point, an educational center in Staatsburg. “It is planned to be an interactive museum like display that will feature an informative way to learn about the plastic pollution in the Hudson. My role was to try to come up with the type of display and decide what type of information should be included in it,” Ian says. Hoping to one day pursue a Ph.D. in either Environmental Health, Toxicology, or Pharmacology, Ian says that his summer spent at Clearwater was very meaningful to him because he was able to teach people about a topic he is passionate about. “I overall just love helping the community better understand the problems that it is facing it and how they can help protect the environment themselves."
A double major in Political Science and Communications and Summer 2017 Tarver Intern, Kathryn Zielinski '19 interviewed residents, students, and local youth about their experiences living in Poughkeepsie, then drew upon this feedback to develop promotional material for Hudson River Housing and its Middle Main initiative. “My hope is that sharing residents’ stories will create a positive sense of community in the area,” she says. Ms. Zielinski also recognizes the need for "community" to create connections between the Marist campus and Poughkeepsie residents. “Sometimes during the school year, we get caught up in homework and clubs and forget to be a part of the larger community here. I've met several people this summer who have told me that they wish college students in the area were more involved…I completely agree."
English major Riana Ramirez '18, who worked at Catholic Charities as a Summer 2017 Tarver Intern, valued the opportunity to work on a cause that is personally meaningful to her. Ms. Ramirez spent her summer in the Office for New Americans, helping to put together resources for immigrants in Poughkeepsie. “Poughkeepsie has a large immigration population and Catholic Charities is the only organization in the area that provides free immigration services, which is greatly needed since most clients can not afford private lawyers,” she says. While there, Ms. Ramirez helped with English as a Second Language class registration and tutoring as well as client intake for attorneys. She found this work to be especially rewarding because of her own immigration background. “My family came to this country as immigrants and had to deal with the immigration process. Being able to work with immigrant populations and help them improve their status is very meaningful for me,” she says.