People featured as Landis Active CitizensThe Landis Center for Community Engagement is driven by the faculty, students, and staff who know that altering our world requires individual commitment, a common purpose, and active citizenship. To that end, these stars lead the pack.

Ayleen Correa ’19

Economics and International Affairs, Alternative School Break Co-Leader and 2018 Pre-Orientation Service Program

Fanessa De La Rosa ’19

Engineering Studies and International Affairs, Alternative School Break Co-Leader and The Leadership Center intern

Ready to hop on a plane to Honduras to help empower women? Then let Correa and De La Rosa be your guides. They will do just that, leading a group of Lafayette students on a trip during spring break. De La Rosa is already a pro in that field after interning in Honduras at The Leadership Center over the summer where she tutored students in English, taught math, modeled self-care, and got her hands dirty, milking cows each morning.

Correa has come to campus early each fall to participate in and now lead the Pre-Orientation Service Program, a service experience that connects first-year students with student leaders, faculty, staff, and community members as they dive into projects across Easton. Correa emphasized commitment as part of her vision to model how crucial the introduction to campus is to building a sense of belonging.

Why ♥ Landis

De La Rosa: There is a misconception of what Landis is and does. We are not a one-and-done organization. We create enduring partnerships that work on continuous progress. We want to build well-rounded leaders who apply what they learn in the classroom to what is real outside those doors.

Correa: Landis is an opportunity to build empathy. We are a community surrounded by global and local issues. Landis puts a human face on those issues and creates experiences to begin conversations. Talking to people helps us to see that we are not separate from those experiences. Instead, we set our own experiences aside for a moment and can weightlessly walk into the world and truly serve others.

Ryan Fainor ’20

Mechanical Engineering, Pre-Orientation Service Program, Easton Urban Farm Camp Director, and MOSIAC Urban Garden Coordinator

Maybe it’s because salad is his favorite food and that he ends most meals with one. Maybe it’s because he feels harvesting potatoes is like “digging for gold.” Or maybe it’s because he thinks the perfect vegetable is beets, pickled. Either way, Fainor has fallen into the local gardens and seems to have found his roots. He has been involved in the urban gardens since his first year on campus and now helps coordinate programs there for fellow students, including days filled with gardening, neighborhood tours, and nature education. His main goal with urban gardening is to provide healthy food in an affordable way. But he knows the old adage, “If you give someone a fish …” Sure, growing and distributing fruits and vegetables can help build a sense of community and be impactful for people in food deserts, but it is far from a robust solution to the issue of food access. He wants his work to inspire others to learn how to participate in and support the local food system. In this small way, he hopes it will help to teach someone to fish.

Why ♥ Landis

Landis is a diverse and collaborative group of students who all have unique backgrounds and contributions, and I really appreciate that. But Landis is unique because it doesn’t stop at just direct service—we also try to better understand societal issues through education and reflection. With that, everyone in Landis learns how to become a leader in their community, and that’s the coolest thing about being involved.

Jafar Bhatti ’19

Neuroscience, MOSAIC team leader, Alternative School Break, and Summer Research Scholar

As leader of Dream Team, Bhatti oversees major events like Hunger and Homelessness Week and program coordinators who have teams at various locations including the county prison, Third Street Alliance, and Firth Youth Center. His Landis roots began during his first year as he fell in love with reading to local youth through America Reads. Then during his sophomore year, Bhatti joined an Alternative School Break (ASB) trip to Florida where students removed invasive species from the Everglades and picked up 700 pounds of trash at one beach in the Florida Keys. The trip inspired him to serve as secretary for ASB his junior year and as vice president this year. If that’s not enough, he spent the summer of his junior year in Panama conducting research on Alzheimer’s disease while his senior thesis on “flashbulb memory” is based on his work with Jennifer Talarico, associate professor of psychology.

Why ♥ Landis

There is such a benefit to giving to the community. While it takes a lot of work, I have learned so many skills that you can’t pick up in the classroom, like time management and communication with the team. What I give to the community and what I receive in return is mutually beneficial. That is why I value Landis.

Rachel Koh

assistant professor of mechanical engineering

Canes that light up and a walker with a built-in rain protector are just a few of the devices that Koh’s first-year mechanical engineering students designed and fabricated for seniors last year at Easton Area Lifestyle Campus. There was not much students couldn’t dream up after listening to their elderly customers and grabbing a roll of duct tape. This year Koh is raising the stakes as students use microcontrollers—a small computer on a single circuit. These components help connect the physical world with the digital one. Think of the wearable device on your wrist that measures sleeping, pulse, or steps. Students are using microcontrollers to help two local projects. At Easton Urban Farm, students will help design a system that tracks soil quality while at ProJeCt of Easton they will help monitor food safety conditions in the community pantry.

Why ♥ Landis

Koh hopes to bring the context of the world within the walls of the classroom to help first-year students better understand how environmental factors impact community needs and how ethics shape engineering design. The assistant professor of mechanical engineering wants to shrink the divide that can exist with students who volunteer in the community but see it separate from the learning on campus. “Through Landis, students who are in Easton for four years and gain lots from that time can find ways to give back,” Koh says.

Debbie Byrd

professor of English and women’s and gender studies

Being a feminist means being an activist, not just espousing ideas but engaging in constructive social change. That conviction makes Byrd a pioneer at Landis. She served as inaugural director of the Center of Community Engagement when its doors opened in 2013. She had a small budget, space, and staff, but her belief in community-based learning and research propelled her forward. She, Bonnie Winfield and Amber Zuber set up a steering committee of community members, supported and helped facilitate both new and existing community-based learning projects, produced a CBLR “how to” manual for faculty, and worked on focusing the college’s community engagement initiatives on issues that both address community needs and draw upon faculty, staff, and student interest in youth mentoring, community arts, aging, and environmental stewardship.  Byrd has been immersed in community-based learning and research since 2005, with much of her attention focused on supporting ASPIRE, a mentoring program for pregnant and parenting teens at Easton Area High School.  The goals were clear: to help the teens develop good parenting skills while supporting their desire to graduate high school on time, then pursue the kind of post-secondary education or job training that would lead them to economic self-sufficiency.  Several of the teen parents have become like Byrd’s own daughters and sons, and their perseverance and resourcefulness inspired her to change the course of her scholarly life.

Why ♥ Landis

Community-based learning is not charity work; it requires a complex synthesis of scholarly readings and knowledge gleaned from interacting with and learning from individuals in the larger community—whether these be teen parents, residents of a nursing home, environmental activists, or first-graders reading below grade level. Students can learn a great deal about poverty and homelessness by reading scholarly books and essays, studying statistics, and grappling with case studies. But they may not fully understand how difficult it can be to escape poverty until they sit down face to face with a young single mom who is working a full-time job, struggling to find affordable childcare and healthcare, and somehow finding the time, money, and energy to take courses at the local community college. Students learn about the complex origins and nature of pressing social problems and are challenged to find thoughtful and creative ways to address them. This is the kind of high-impact learning that Landis fosters.

Staci Zsilavecz

Community School Coordinator at Cheston Elementary School in the Easton Area School District, partners with Lafayette on the Aspirations Program

For years, Cheston had been working with the America Reads program but wanted more involvement with the College. Now Zsilavecz is matching classes and teachers with professors and college students to collaborate while they all learn together. The Aspirations Program helps forge relationships between educators and inspire elementary students to consider college. “Some who live a few miles from the campus have never heard of it, let alone visited,” she says. But after attending a workshop and taking a tour, the students’ eyes are opened. “They all then want to go to college and get excited about studying the subjects that truly interest them,” she says. “And not just the subjects they have to take.”

Why ♥ Landis

The relationship between Landis and Cheston is meaningful and intentional. We are able to work together with a shared vision and toward a common goal. The staff are “yes people,” collaborating in ways to find a yes that benefits both sides. They are what community collaborators should be like.

Delta Upsilon

volunteer members with a can-do attitude

BaconFest. Those two simple words motivate a group of guys to wake up at 4 a.m. and help prepare the City of Easton for 85,000 visitors. Of course, they do a lot of setup, but they also eat lots of bacon and ride the mechanical pig. This blend of “volun-fun,” a term that combines the fun that comes with volunteering, is a driving factor. It’s what prompts them to help on LaFarm by growing veggies, tending the community plot, and fixing the fence. Members get involved and aren’t afraid to get dirty. They are involved in Pre-Orientation Service Program, America Reads, Lafapalooza, and another downtown activity, Spring Into Easton.

Why ♥ Landis

Landis does a great job of providing opportunities to us to offer service to our community. We like to give back and want to find ways to bond with each other outside the house. We are go-getters, and Landis gives us ways to demonstrate individual and group leadership and to show how we care about our College, our classmates, and our community.

Categorized in: Featured News, Landis Center, News and Features
Tagged with: ,