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Students venture into Rochester for Wilson Day, Eastman Day of Service

Phil Yahia '22, a biomedical engineering major from New York City, plays foosball with Jahsier Riley at the Boys & Girls Club of Rochester during Monday's annual Wilson Day of community service. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Charles Met ’22 knows little about the city of Rochester, so he welcomed any chance to venture into the community—including a game of billiards against elementary school children at the Boys & Girls Club of Rochester on Genesee Street.

“It’s a very rewarding experience, because being with kids is fun, and getting into the city is important,” says the biology major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I think we should support the community we’re going to live in for the next four years.”

Met was one of about 1,300 first-year College students who took part in Wilson Day, the University’s annual day of community service that began in 1988. The students spent the afternoon working at 89 host sites around Rochester.

They set up school classrooms, played with children, cleaned senior living centers, put together snack bags at the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and performed yardwork at areas around Rochester.

Wilson Day was the brainchild of Theresa Guenther ’90, who pitched the idea her sophomore year to then director of orientation (and later dean of students) Jody Asbury.

“I wanted something that would be a bonding experience for the incoming class,” Guenther says. “I thought it was a one-year thing. I never dreamed it would become this big or last this long.”

At Monday’s opening ceremony, both Guenther and Asbury received presidential proclamations from University President Richard Feldman.

The Eastman School of Music also held its ninth annual George Eastman Day of Service, with about 150 first-year students performing a “clean sweep” of seven areas in the city.

“It’s just a great event,” said Seoyun Baek ‘22E, a piano major from Chicago who cleaned up Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park with several classmates. “You’re helping the city, and you’re bonding with your classmates.”

In pictures

(University of Rochester photos / J. Adam Fenster)

large group of students working in a gardenBrain and cognitive sciences major Eden Lambright of San Francisco, left, and molecular genetics major Jenn Jeffway of Somer, Connecticut, weed the community garden at Wilson Magnet High School during the annual Wilson Day.


two students weeding around a large sunflowerMath and economics major Dokata Kosi of Marsabit, Kenya, left, and electrical and computer engineering ajor major Aaron Sapollnik of New York City join in with their fellow first-year students in the annual day of service.


group portrait of students and University administrators outside a schoolFrom right, Dean of the College Jeffrey Runner, former Dean of Students Jody Asbury, current Dean of Students Matthew Burns, and University President Richard Feldman pose with the first-year students working at Wilson Magnet High School. Asbury was the dean of students when the annual Wilson Day tradition was started 30 years ago.


three students raking at a city parkFrom left, Seoyun Baek, piano major from Chicago; Abigail Cook, piano major from, Flagstaff, Arizona; and Tina Moon, violin major from Seoul, South Korea share a laugh as they clean up Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park during the Eastman Day of Service.


three students sitting on a park bench, relaxing and laughing, holding large garbage bags afer cleaning up a parkTaking a rest from their work in downtown Rochester, from left, Cheng Qian, piano major from Beijing, Anna Groesch, cello performance major from St. Louis, Missouri, and Gerardo Garcia, violin performance major from McAllen, Texas, pause from the activity of Eastman Day.

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