Today and tomorrow mark commencement ceremonies at most colleges and universities I follow. From SUNY Fredonia, to SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Albany, RPI, Syracuse, Niagara University, Niagara Community College and SUNY College at Buffalo, students are ready to leave and join their next adventure. What an adventure it will be! This generation of students, my students, are going out in a world with ideas and values that makes my generation look like lazy people. The newest generation are entrepreneurs, advocates, creative thinkers, information creators and communicators.
In social studies, we talk about how to create citizens. We examine in great detail within research what as teachers we need to do to get students motivated to go forth and do good. The research tells us to capture passion. We need to be engaging and interactive. We must value our students self efficacy. We must have students reflect on their own experiences.
What I have found working in a college setting is this: the students who have the privileged of attending school are passionate, are dedicated, are studious, and are engaged. This past week the Alpha Phi Omega Chapter at RPI announced its service hour total for last semester: almost 2000 hours by 35 people. They gave up 83.3 days in service. That is inspiring and amazing. 18-22 year old students as a collective working for others with no recognition or reward. Under Service Vice Chair Mike Baird and Sectionals Chair Emily Stickles, this group has done an amazing job balancing classroom responsibilities with service.
Our group TIES is working to ensure that innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability are not sidebars, but focuses of engineering and design work here at our school. One young man, Luke, is actively working on ways to recapture energy on campus and make sure the savings are used to upgrade and make more sustainable efforts here.
One of my Venturing Crew VPs, Amanda, wants to create a community garden. She feels that a community garden will allow students a moment of mental sanity while studying for exams, working in labs, and help them to connect. A garden would allow people a chance to see plants grow, flower, and become part of the diet here. Additionally communities with gardens are more social and connected places than non- garden areas.
Ms. Shannon McGee served as a student government officer, sister in Alpha Phi, and as a Rotary international peace ambassador. She is the winner of the Stanton Award for community service to campus. Shannon, who has been through so much in her life is an environmental advocate, peace advocate, mentor for young women, and most importantly a dedicated individual who is placing service before self as she learns in a Master’s program how to facilitate peace and peaceful interactions.
Ray Parker, who graduates tomorrow, started a website to help people with disabilities connect. He designed a user interface platform which brings to life the ideas enshrined in the laws of access and education. Ray is not one to slow down, and has involved himself in other projects that have been recognized for innovation.
Major Joe White, the XO of the NROTC on campus participates in his last commissioning today. He has worked closely with our Leadership Center to enhance his program, and offer our young officer candidates an opportunity to develop team work, leadership skills and communication. Joe is the classiest example of a Marine Officer I can ever imagine. He is thoughtful. He is humble, in a way that makes you want to follow him. He is dedicated to service to the country and our existence. After 20 years, he retires. Sempter Fi Major, and Thank you!
I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing work of Erin Berube. Erin founded the sole survivors group here on campus. This group is dedicated to spreading the word about support for sexual assault survivors. Her events the past two semesters “I will walk with you” painted foot prints and the words on sidewalks across campus in blue. Erin has expanded the discussion about assault to the Greek organizations on campus, and thankfully been recognized by the Jefferson award committee as finalist for her efforts.
Last but not least, Michelle splits her time as a Chem Engineering Major, a Frisbee player, and the National Venturing President, BSA. While the national council has bestowed upon her the Venturing Leadership award, it can in no way recognize the work that she has done to promote venturing, work with scouts here at RPI, and help me become a better adviser and teacher. Congrats on a well deserved recognition.
The 2016-2017 school year, now fading to a close taught me that our future will be okay, we need to ensure that our latest, brightest, and motivated do not become discouraged or ignored. Good luck, God Speed, and thank you for making me better at being me.
Casey Jakubowski is a lecturer in Leadership Development, Educational Policy and professional developer in social studies. He is a certified MBTI practitioner. He has published internationally, nationally in the US, regionally in the Northeast, and actively participates in Rural Ed discussions. He is a PhD candidate at SUNY Albany in Education Policy and Leadership Studies. He has two book projects underway: an educational reflection and a social studies and STEM integration work. Follow Casey on twitter @CaseyJ_edu He can be reached for mentoring, coaching, and professional development in services.