Caring for the Community: NJIT Students Are Standout Volunteers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 62 million people “volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2014 and September 2015.” Count NJIT students among this giving group. In fact, volunteerism and community service is fundamental to the fabric of the university, which has made the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for six years. The accolade is “one of the highest recognitions a university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.”
“NJIT has a long tradition of meeting important community needs by providing opportunities for our students to share their extraordinary skills, talents and enthusiasm through service and outreach. It is part of our university’s mission to serve the welfare of our city, state and country,” said NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. “Through community service, NJIT students enhance their educational experience and broaden career paths. Most importantly, they learn how empowering it can be to provide hope, and they experience the satisfaction that can only be derived by giving back.”
In observance of National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, here we feature facts and figures about the community service contributions made by NJIT students, and also hear about the “win-win” impact of volunteerism from the students themselves.
Volunteerism at NJIT: 2016 by the Numbers
“Good Works”: What Students Have to Say
From Alternative Spring Break and Global Brigades, to after-school STEM mentoring and neighborhood beautification projects, to feeding the hungry and knitting hats and blankets for those in need, NJIT students are involved in a range of community service initiatives. While they are certainly helping others, they also are reaping personal rewards.
“Volunteering has connected me to the Newark community and allowed me to help connect other students to the Newark community as well. Through the Pre-Health Society, I collaborated with many students to start the Healthy Heroes after-school program at 13th Avenue elementary school. My favorite part of the experience was getting to spend time with the kids one-on-one and seeing them progress over the seven weeks. When we presented them with their graduation certificates, you could tell that they were really proud of what they had learned and accomplished.” — Kristen Grotheer, B.S., Biology ’18: Pre-Health Society
“Community service has helped contribute to my sense of self-purpose, as well as connected me further to the NJIT and Newark communities. Additionally, I find a lot of value in being in a position that lets others know that people care about their well-being.” — Kasey Hickey, B.S., Mechanical Engineering ’19: Albert Dorman Honors College retreat counselor, Camden Elementary School student mentor
"What I enjoyed about Alternative Spring Break at NJIT was the opportunity to give back to individuals that have been struck by unfortunate, life-altering experiences. Their appreciation and happiness were practically palpable!" — Kimberly Prince, B.S., Science Technology Society ’19: NJ Family Assistance Resource Center, Alternative Spring Break 2017
“Volunteering does not require a degree to serve. It requires your time, and rewards you generously through the smiles of those you have served. Serve to better yourself through those smiles.” — Vineeth Yalaka, M.S.M., Management ’18: First-year Service Day, 2016
CDS: Community Service Headquarters
NJIT’s Career Development Services (CDS) plays a vital role in volunteerism at the university and beyond. It serves as NJIT’s central location for community service, working with student groups and other departments and offices to connect students with a variety of projects and programs — and the appreciation for such involvement is heartfelt.
“NJIT students have so much to offer Newark youth as role models who are going to college and pursuing a successful STEM career,” said Elizabeth Weisholtz, executive director, Newark Mentoring Movement.
CDS also reports the university’s community service hours and partnerships to the federal government’s Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the Presidential Honor Roll Awards. Recently, CDS’ efforts in student-volunteer recruitment and engagement garnered the university the Wynona Lipman Ambassador Award from Wynona’s House, a nonprofit “promoting justice and providing healing for child victims of abuse and neglect in Essex County.”
“NJIT prepares its graduates for positions of leadership as professionals and as citizens,” noted Greg Mass, CDS executive director, of the university’s culture of service.
“Vivian Lanzot, our director for community and public services, manages multiple programs and initiatives involving thousands of students each year,” he added. “Her outstanding work in framing community challenges into projects for which our students can use their diverse skills and talents is beyond commendable.”