OSWEGO — 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 pretty prestigious honor,” said Alyssa Amyotte, the college’s coordinator for service learning and community service. “Only about a hundred other schools are named to the (with Distinction) list every year — it shows good things about SUNY Oswego.”
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. The honor recognizes volunteer activities in the 2011-12 school year.
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 community service projects in their honor roll 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.
Senior Ben Truesdail volunteers 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.
“There are no words to explain what community service has done for me,” said Truesdail, a vocational teacher preparation major who plans to student teach in the fall. “It 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.”
Sophomore Tucker Sholtes now directs his volunteer energies to organizing such projects as Oswego Community Garden improvements. In fall 2011, in the wake of Hurricane Irene, he 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 last fall 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 with Amyotte.
“I would definitely say that if not for all my community service work, none of that would have happened,” he said.
The 2013 President’s Honor Roll for Higher Education Community Service names 690 colleges and universities nationwide; in this state, 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.