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Dustin Liu ’19 with fellow Cornellians during a Jan 2019 service trip in Hualien, Taiwan, serving the Tzu Chi Foundation.

Community-engaged learning initiative helps students change the world

Throughout his Cornell career, Dustin Liu ’19 was deeply involved with the community-engaged learning initiative (CEL) – a universitywide effort to involve every Cornell student in learning with and from communities.

Liu says that his engagement with the larger Ithaca community started from the moment he set foot on the Cornell campus to take part in a pre-orientation service trip. His team worked together on service projects at Ithaca High School and the Ithaca Children’s Garden.

He says his teammates “came in as strangers, but left as family who became connected through service,” adding, “It was because of these experiences that I began to call Cornell, and the greater Ithaca community, home.”

Liu went on to volunteer as a math tutor at Ithaca High School. This began an engagement journey that included service as a student-elected trustee, an adviser for a peer-to-peer mentoring program targeting underserved high school students, an ILR Global Service Learning Program in India, a Fulbright fellowship in Malaysia, and his current role as a UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations.

Six years ago, the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust – a foundation now known as Einhorn Collaborative – made a $50M gift to Cornell to launch the CEL initiative and ensure that community-engaged learning is a hallmark of the Cornell undergraduate experience.

As part of the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference (CALC), held online Feb 24-27, David Einhorn ’91 shared the motivation for investing in community-engaged learning and his aspirations for the initiative. Hundreds of Cornellians tuned in to the Feb. 26 livestream presentation, “Stories from the Inside: Cornell’s Commitment to Public Engagement.”

Katherine McComas, vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs, moderated the discussion between Einhorn, Liu, Ezi Osuoha ’22 and Tony Burrow, associate professor of human development and winner of the 2019 Engaged Scholar Prize.

“We want every undergrad at Cornell to experience what it’s like to work with a community partner to solve problems and serve the greater good,” McComas says.

Read the rest of this story from Alumni Affairs and Development. 

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