Showcase celebrates Cornell students' public engagement

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Rebecca Valli
Treijon Johnson
Chris Kitchen/University Photography
Treijon Johnson '17 discusses his experience with the Climate Change Awareness in Vietnam course during a panel discussion at the 2017 Community Engagement Showcase.

More than 200 people gathered in Willard Straight Hall April 24 to honor the civic engagement of Cornell students. The 2017 Community Engagement Showcase highlighted several dozen projects, each in partnership with a local or global community, and Student and Community Excellence in Community Engagement Awards and the George D. Levy Faculty Award were given.

The event also featured a panel discussion with student representatives from the Cornell Sober Housing Initiative, the Climate Change Awareness in Vietnam course and the ILR School’s High Roads Fellowship. George Ferrari ’84, who received the Community Engagement Trailblazer Award, gave the keynote address.

“If there’s no conflict [in your community engagement], you’re not doing hard enough work,” Ferrari told the audience. Ferrari also said that community engagement groups “should be held accountable for the process as well as the result.”

Ferrari is CEO of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. He has been active in the local community since 1980, and has worked with organizations such as Head Start and the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service’s Crisis Line. Additionally, Ferrari has served as executive director of both AIDS Work of Tompkins County and Catholic Charities of Tompkins and Tioga Counties.

“Your civic engagement … will change you in all aspects of your work and how you work with a community, how you volunteer and in your social relationships,” Ferrari said. “Each one of your experiences will provide you with a way to think about yourself in context.”

Student and Community Excellence in Community Engagement Awards included a prize of $1,500 to be used for further development of their community projects. This year’s winners were Team D.O.P.E. (Devotees of Park Elementary) and AguaClara.

Team D.O.P.E. – Shannon McLeod ’19, Lizbeth Lucero ’20, Lydia Anglin ’18, Carúmey Stevens ’19, Jamila Bakhit ’19 and Bryan Duff, senior lecturer in the School of Integrative Plant Science – worked with Park Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to develop project-based learning for the students. Their project culminated in three music videos produced by third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in celebration of Black History Month.

Disha Mendhekar ’17 won for her work with project AguaClara, which focuses on creating and distributing sustainable water systems in Honduras.

Monroe Weber-Shirk, senior lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, was honored with the George D. Levy Faculty Award, which recognizes a Cornell faculty member whose contributions to a community project have resulted in tangible change for the community at hand. Weber-Shirk is the program director for AguaClara.

The event was sponsored by the Office of Engagement Initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives, the Public Service Center and the Community Learning and Service Partnership.

Teagan Todd ’20 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.


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