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Moving Memories – A Community-Engaged Course

Moving Memories – A Community-Engaged Course

Ellen Tomer Baker facilitated a discussion on eldercare and practical aspects of engaging with senior adults with students in DAN 249 Moving Memories in early February. Ellen focused on issues related to aging such: language, social bias, health challenges, and well-being. As a social worker who has worked in eldercare for the past seventeen years, she was able to draw from the variety of experiences from personal home visits, VA care, hospice, and her current work at St. Ann’s. Ellen also has a background in dance as a performer and choreographer, so she was especially well-suited to help the students prepare for their choreographic collaboration with our River Edge Manor partners.

Learn more about Community-Engaged Learning. 

Student Spotlight: Rachel Tse

Student Spotlight: Rachel Tse

Hometown: Hong Kong

Class Year: 2022

Majors/Minors: Double Major in Business and English

Your UR activities other than working here? 1st Gen Society, Students Helping Honduras

What has been your favorite experience at UR so far? It has been a really great experience thus far that I get to explore and study what I genuinely am passionate for, thanks for the flexible Rochester curriculum! Also, everywhere I go, people have been really friendly and helpful to me, from faculty members to people that have the same classes with me! It’s great to know that there’s always someone to turn to when I have questions.

What are you most excited for this semester? This semester I am really excited about getting more involved in student activities and community service.

What advice do you have for newly arrived midyear students? I would suggest newly arrived midyear students not to afraid to go out and meet new people! Trust me, everyone here is super nice. You can start by looking into the clubs and organizations that you may be interested in and you’re off to a great start! It’s never too late to make new friends!

Student Spotlight: Deniz Cengiz

Student Spotlight: Deniz Cengiz

Get to know out new student employee, Deniz Cengiz!

Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey
Class Year: 2021
Majors/Minors: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Archaeology

Your UR activities other than working here: Design Thinking Fellow at Barbara J. Burger iZone, Sihir Bellydancing Ensemble

What has been your favorite experience at UR so far?
The journey of exploring how I fit in to the new setting and community of UR and sharing it with people that have become my family away from home has by far been the best experience. A really great memory from last year is from the Scare Fair that the library hosts: I was organizing an event where we built fortresses to protect ourselves from the zombie apocalypse, and everyone from my hall showed up to the event and we ended up building a giant cardboard fortress in the middle of Q&I!

What advice do you have for students who want to get involved?
Don’t be afraid to fail or get rejected or be embarrassed! There are many things to do on and off campus, but it’s scary as a newcomer to sometimes step into new experiences or activities out of fear of feeling out of place or being less experienced in certain activities. We all fail or embarrass ourselves at one point or another, and there is nothing wrong with experimenting and trying out new things to see if they fit you or your interests. Finding out the right people and the community for yourself comes from trying new things and making connections!

What’s your favorite Rochester restaurant?
There’s a really good authentic Turkish restaurant called As Evi, it’s a great place for me for when I’m really missing food from home!

Student Spotlight: Justyna Gorka

Student Spotlight: Justyna Gorka

Get to know our new student assistant, Justyna Gorka!

Hometown: Chicago, IL
Class Year: 2021
Majors/Minors: Political Science and Philosophy

Your UR activities other than working here: 2021 Class Council, D’Lions, RHA, APO, GlobeMed, Students for a Democratic Society

What has been your favorite experience at UR so far? My favorite experience so far has definitely been Orientation Week for the Class of 2022. Being a D’Lion, I got the chance to interact with the first-year class and get them excited about the UofR. In the process, I also was able to inadvertently relive my own Orientation Week memories, smiling at how much I’ve grown as a person since then. It was great to have a role in the Class of 2022’s introduction into college life. Through my efforts and the efforts of other Yellowjackets, I hope that the class can come to love the UofR as much as I have.

What advice do you have for students who want to get involved? If you want to get involved, the first step is to be proactive and put yourself out there. Utilize the resources available to you on campus as well as online in the UofR domain. If you don’t know how, check out the CCC and find out where your interests lie. From there, it only takes an email, a phone call, an in-person visit, etc. to get connected. The hardest step is always the first. So voice your interests to the leaders of the group, and I assure you that they will appreciate your enthusiasm and help you integrate into a community just as passionate as you.

What’s your favorite Rochester restaurant? I am a big fan of Stromboli’s Restaurant on 130 East Ave by the Eastman School of Music. The food has an authentic taste, it is a quick buy, and it is inexpensive – the golden standard for a busy college student or anyone who appreciates good food. I recommend any of their boli dishes or specialty pizzas!

Brooks Landing Block Party

Brooks Landing Block Party

There will be a block party with free food and live music on Thursday, September 13, from 5-8 PM, intended to welcome students back and connect them with the Southwest Rochester Neighborhood. Live music will be provided by Siena Facciolo & Co. and Dope Sauce and the Funkingtons. The event will take place in a tent in front of Brooks Crossing, at the corner of Brooks and Genesee Streets, near the end of the pedestrian bridge. Please share this event with your friends, halls, and student organizations, and consider attending as a group!

Become a Neighborhood Ambassador

Become a Neighborhood Ambassador

The Off-Campus Living Program, part of the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services, is accepting applications for next year’s Neighborhood Ambassadors. These students would live off campus and learn about the communities they live in. Ambassadors then represent their community in a variety of community/student events.  Neighborhood Ambassadors can:

  • Learn about the diverse neighborhood they live in
  • Bridge the gap between the University and the community
  • Explore social justice issues in the community settings
  • Create unique and imaginative events for students and the neighborhoods
  • Receive a stipend of $1,000 ($500 each semester)

Any enrolled student, undergraduate, and graduate, who lives in a neighborhood adjacent to the University can apply. Interested students can email Fazeelah Chappell ( or John Borek (

Become a Volunteer Counselor with Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach

Become a Volunteer Counselor with Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach

Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach is seeking students willing to serve as volunteer counselors for the summer. Students will have to be available from July 2nd to August 10th, Monday through Friday from noon to 3 pm. This role can also be supported as an internship. The responsibilities of this role include:

  • Supervising children ages 4-12 (approximately 20-40 children each day) at Mary’s Place. There is a playground behind the building and different games/toys/crafts for children to do
  • Serving children lunch and snack each day (Foodlink provides daily deliveries of premade lunch and snack)
  • Accompanying children 2 days/week to local YMCA for swim lessons (The lessons are taught by staff from YMCA and YMCA provides bussing to/from)
  • Accompanying children on a total of 4 field trips (Mary’s Place provides a bus to/from field trips and covers all expenses)

Students who are interested can email or call Charlsey Bickett ( (585-270-8626).

Students Develop Community Leadership Skills in Thailand

Students Develop Community Leadership Skills in Thailand


Back row (L-R): Brianna Terrell ‘20, Yixin Cao ‘18, Vlad Cazacu ‘20, Olavi Hangula ‘21
Front row (L-R): Nathan Leopold ‘20, Beatriz Gil Gonzalez ‘19, Jing Tian Ngiaw ‘19

Seven students will attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium at the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand this summer. Students will spend seven days with other youth leaders from around the world to hone their leadership skills, learn about what it takes for a humanitarian intervention to succeed, collaborate with their international peers on issues of social justice, and partake in a day of service in Bangkok.

With generous support from the College Dean’s Office, the Office of Global Engagement, and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, Cazacu, Gonzalez, Leopold, Ngiaw, and Terrell were awarded funding to support their attendance through a competitive application process.  This is the first year that the University of Rochester has sent a delegation to the conference. Delegates will share their new knowledge and skills with the campus community in the fall semester. Visit the USLS website to learn more about the symposium.

Rochester Urban Fellows Spotlight: Kavya Bana

Rochester Urban Fellows Spotlight: Kavya Bana

In just one short week,  the 2018 cohort of seventeen Rochester Urban Fellows will begin their ten weeks of service with organizations across the city. Fellows come from near and far to spend their summer learning about the Rochester community and how different organizations work to create positive change. Fortunately, the Fellows have someone to help them navigate this new, challenging experience. Kavya Bana served as an Urban Fellow in 2016 and is this year’s program leader, helping to both manage logistics of the program and provide guidance and support to the Fellows. Learn more about Kavya and her experience with Urban Fellows below!

Hometown: Simsbury, CT

Class year: 2019

Major: Microbiology and Political Science

What is a typical day/week like as a fellow?: For four days out of the week, fellows work at their host sites throughout the city of Rochester. These sites range from Foodlink to the 19th Ward Community Association. Each day fellows work at their organization doing both indirect and direct service. Indirect service entails working to build capacity at an organization whereas direct service involved working directly with the community members your organization serves. On Wednesday’s, the fellows attend Urban Issue Seminars in the morning and apply what they have learned by visiting or serving at an organization in the community tackling that urban issue. Urban issues covered include urban education, urban planning, an mass incarceration.

Where was your site and what did you do?: My site was at the Rochester Public Market and I mostly worked at the SNAP/Token desk each day where I would interact with community members and exchange SNAP benefits for tokens to use at the Market. I also performed outreach at churches and youth recreation centers to make community members more aware of the SNAP program at farmers markets in Rochester. Finally, I also led some tours for students and staffed the taste the market food table where I would hand out samples of food made using market ingredients.

What did you love the most about Urban Fellows?: Urban Fellows broadened my horizons because it not only changed my perception of Rochester but also of community engagement in general. Before the program, while I was passionate about my community, I felt largely unaware of how to actually address the issues that I cared about the most. I truly loved feeling like I was actually a citizen of Rochester by connecting with all of the community stakeholders and members  I met throughout the summer.

What are you most excited about this year as the student leader for Urban Fellows?: I am most excited to see how much closer the fellows will be from slightly quiet and awkward interactions at orientation to their final presentations when they are all one tightly knit group.

What are you nervous about the most?: I am most nervous about fostering a sense of community with all of the fellows early on especially when some live off campus while others live on campus.

What would you say to anyone looking to apply?: Apply even if you think you don’t necessarily have a lot of work experience as long as you have a passion for learning more about the community. Also, keep an open mind throughout the summer because this program will definitely change your perspective!

TOUR Academic Coach Spotlight: Sol Kim

TOUR Academic Coach Spotlight: Sol Kim

The Rochester Center for Community Leadership is spotlighting the Transition Opportunities at the University of Rochester (TOUR) program. TOUR is an inclusive college experience for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are age 18 to 21. TOUR students have the opportunity to participate in college courses, vocational training and internships, transition and independent living education, as well as social activities. For more information about TOUR, please visit the website.

Name: Sol Kim

Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon

Class year: 2018

Major: BCS

What is a typical day/week like as a tutor?: I attend class with my TOUR student(s) and meet with them outside of class for at least one hour for our weekly academic coaching sessions. In between classes and individual coaching sessions, tutors and mentees will text each other about homework and run into each other fairly often – most likely at Starbucks or Meliora! If I run into the TOUR students I’ve taken a Spanish language course with, we’ll strike up a conversation in Spanish 🙂

What do you love the most about LEAP/TOUR?: I love exploring a diverse selection of courses offered at UR that specifically fits the interests of another student! Thanks to the TOUR students I’ve worked with, I’ve had the opportunity to take courses I otherwise wouldn’t have explored, like philosophy and music history courses. While I personally have learned a lot by being in a teaching position and taking some interesting classes, it’s also really rewarding to be integrally involved in the life of another student, a peer, and a friend!

What would you say to anyone looking to apply?: Definitely, do! It’s a learning experience that will open and blow your mind! I feel very fortunate and am thankful to have been involved in this program as a TOUR academic coach. I’ve been blessed with fresh perspectives on the college experience and consider myself environed with a diversity of learning styles and opportunities. There’s so much to be gained through this program and it’s so worth all the time, energy, and effort.