SUNY Oswego Achieves National Distinction for Community Service

Students work with Operations Southern Comfort

Students work with Operation Southern Comfort during the Alternative Spring Break program in New Orleans in January 2013. From left, LeAnne St. Gelais ’07, Shauna Brunea ’16, Julia Nuzzo ’14, Joan Flower (Operation Southern Comfort volunteer), Kelsey Magraw ’14 and Heather Eldridge ’16 work at the St. Bernard Parish scraping, sanding, finishing and painting Miss Sue’s house.

SUNY Oswego has been named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, one of only two SUNY campuses to achieve the national designation this year.

It is the third consecutive year the Corporation for National and Community Service has accorded the “with Distinction” title to Oswego, though the college has been on the honor roll for community service since its inception in 2006.

“It’s a prestigious honor,” said Alyssa Amyotte, the college’s coordinator for service learning and community service.

Colleges chosen for the list “reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities,” wrote the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Amyotte said SUNY Oswego—which has received the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification for embedding community service throughout the institution—totaled 44,000 hours of service among at least 1,500 students in 2011-12.

Colleges may highlight three major projects in their applications. For the year 2011-2012, SUNY Oswego submitted its Mentor-Scholar program; a Binghamton flood relief project, and the college’s Alternative Break program for volunteerism around the country and abroad.

Personal growth

Ben Truesdail ’13 volunteered six to nine hours a week as site coordinator for Mentor-Scholar, which pairs SUNY Oswego students with middle-school students in the Oswego City School District, providing twice-weekly homework support, companionship and a willing ear with the goal of reducing the high school dropout rate.

Truesdail is a vocational teacher preparation major who plans to student teach in the fall. “Community service has involved me with the Oswego community. It has helped my personal growth. I’ve been able to work with students, some with disabilities, and it has really taught me a lot.” In fall 2011, in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Tucker Sholtes ’15 began a series of trips to his hometown of Binghamton with friends and colleagues in the School of Business to rip out insulation, carpet and floorboards soaked by the flooded Susquehanna River.

“Alyssa helped me get everything going,” Sholtes said. The then-freshman made presentations across campus and applied for grants that eventually totaled about $3,000 by last spring to purchase swing sets for flood-ravaged families. He made four trips to Binghamton with groups ranging from 15 to 100 SUNY Oswego students and staff, Habitat for Humanity volunteers and high school friends.

Sholtes said he has gone from directionless high school student to officer in two School of Business organizations, a seat on his residence hall’s advisory board and a job in the service learning office.

The 2013 President’s Honor Roll for Higher Education Community Service names 690 colleges and universities nationwide; in New York, Syracuse University, SUNY Binghamton and SUNY Albany are among those on the list. Of the total, 113 received the “with Distinction” designation, with Cortland joining Oswego as the only campuses so honored in SUNY.

— Jeff Rea ’71

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