Service at the University of Rochester

Civic engagement is a huge part of the campus culture and identity at the University of Rochester. A common misconception about Rochester students is that we stay isolated and focused on our studies or research efforts, but undergraduates alone spend over 50,000 hours every year participating, directing, and organizing civic engagement in the Rochester area. Students across all disciplines find themselves engaging in the community of Rochester whether that be through clubs, events, classes, or their own personal endeavors. 

Wilson Day 2019

Wilson Day 2019

The tradition of community service starts as early as the first two weeks for University of Rochester undergraduates. One of the mandatory orientation activities, Wilson Day, sends undergraduates into the Rochester community to make a difference for a day. Once undergraduates get a taste of the difference they can make in their new community, they become drawn to the community service opportunities at the University of Rochester. Here is a list of some of the many programs:

Community Service Organizations on Campus

Here are just some of the many student organizations where undergraduates and engage in service:

  • Circle K International – a premier collegiate service organization with a worldwide membership that promotes fellowship, leadership development, and community service.
  • Partners in Reading – an organization dedicated, by means of tutoring, to aiding school children in their learning process. They work with young elementary students, read books aloud, help students follow along in the classroom, and help tutor students individually or in groups.
  • She’s The First – supports girls who will be the first in their families to graduate high school and train students everywhere to be global citizens.

Service Trips/Academics 

Rochester students like to take every chance to live our school’s ideology of Meliora (ever better). During breaks during and between semesters, students frequently organize and participate in trips dedicated to building relationships with community partners and have a positive impact on a community.

  • Alternative Spring Break Trips – organizations like the University of Rochester Christian Fellowship organize a trip for students to service a community during their spring vacation to work with community leaders on tasks that help elevate the community. 
  • Alternative Winter Break Trips – similar to their spring break counterpart, this trip occurs during winter vacation and allows for students to make meaningful impacts on other communities. 
  • Community-Engaged Scholarship – supports students, faculty, and community partners who combine teaching, research, and practice to build scholarship and address pressing issues facing communities locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

3. Summer/Semester Programs 

The University of Rochester has many programs that undergraduate students can get involved in as early as their first summer/year or later after graduation.

  • Rochester Youth Year – AmeriCorps VISTA-sponsored year of service for recent graduates who want to work with community agencies to create, expand, or sustain initiatives that alleviate the effects of poverty on Rochester youth and families. 
  • Rochester Urban Fellows – a 10-week summer program for local undergraduates who attend a Rochester area college or are native to Rochester and attend college elsewhere. Participants develop personal and professional skills, increase their understanding of urban issues and poverty, and develop emotional ties to Rochester. 
  • LEAP, Learning and Exploring at Play – engages undergraduates in helping kindergarten through fourth-grade students to develop the language, literacy, math, and social skills necessary to succeed in school. 

Whether you decide to attend the University of Rochester or any other institution, I hope you decide to get involved in service!

About the author

Sharifa Sharfeldden

Hello! I am a member of the Class of 2021, majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I am from Brooklyn, New York and I am involved in a variety of on-campus organizations and offices like the Gwen M. Greene Career Center as a Peer Career Advisor (PCA), Student Employment Ambassador at SEO, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers.

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