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. The center would like to recognize these stars for their service on campus and in the community.

Andrea Armstrong

Assistant professor of environmental science and environmental studies, Connected Classrooms, Pen Pals, Let’s Go Outside

Andrea Armstrong

Armstrong’s role as an educator extends far beyond classroom walls and campus borders. For Armstrong, surrounding neighborhoods are a valuable learning environment—for members of the community as well as Lafayette students. 

As an environmental social scientist, Armstrong leads her students in the study of how people connect with the natural environment and how they value and use natural resources. It makes community involvement a natural fit for Armstrong and her students, who have taken an active role in community outreach. 

One initiative, Connected Classrooms, is a program developed via a partnership with Cheston Elementary School. Armstrong students teach fourth graders environmental lessons both in their own classrooms and during special excursions to the College’s campus. “It’s a great experience for everyone,” she says. “The elementary school students learn about the environment and also get to experience a bit of life on a college campus. My students learn how to communicate ideas on a fourth grade level and have the opportunity to interact with Easton residents they may not otherwise meet.” Armstrong also has supported a pen pals program, in which Lafayette students write back and forth with elementary school students who eventually come to campus to meet their mentors. She also is teaching a First-Year Seminar (FYS) course this fall called “Let’s Go Outside.” Students in the course study the benefits of being outdoors while also gaining an understanding of barriers that exist in some communities. Students in that FYS will be doing a trail enhancement project with kids from the Community Bike Works program in Allentown this month.

Why I Love Landis

“I believe the work Landis does helps to break down the barriers between campus and the community. It’s my philosophy that it’s important to extend knowledge out into the community. But I also think we can learn from the real world. I see it as a two-way exchange, and I value both directions of that exchange. I love Landis because it gives our students the opportunity to communicate and to learn within these experiences.”

Jazmyn Ball ’20

PoSP, MOsaic Hunger Coalition

Jazmyn Ball

Ball credits Landis for not only providing her with a meaningful college experience, but for helping her chart her future. Ball became involved with Landis as a first-year participant in Pre-Orientation Service Program (POSP), which provides first-year students the opportunity to arrive on campus a few days early in order to perform meaningful service work while building relationships with community members and peers. Over her four years at Lafayette, Ball has advanced from POSP participant to staff member to her current role as assistant director.

Through Landis, Ball also discovered MOSAIC, which stands for Making Our Society an Inclusive Community, a service group on campus. The anthropology & sociology and policy studies double major now holds the coordinator position for the MOSAIC program’s Hunger Coalition. In that role, Ball plans and executes service projects to help the local Easton community via food pantry distribution, menstrual hygiene drives, and other activities that raise awareness for hunger and homelessness. “I’m very passionate about alleviating food insecurity now, which wasn’t something I necessarily thought in-depth about before coming to Lafayette and being in the Easton community,” Ball says. “It’s propelled me to do more. I studied abroad in Ecuador, Malawi, and Italy for a semester studying food systems, and I’ve had an internship at a food bank in New Jersey, where I helped people apply for food stamps. It all really showed me different perspectives and has had a transformative impact on me.”

Why I Love Landis

“Landis is the place where you can find what you are passionate about,” Ball says. “I learned about food insecurity through Landis and realized it was something I never thought much about. It’s launched me to where I am now and will inform my career path. Discovering Landis and becoming involved literally has shaped my future.”

Adam Finkelstein ’20

America Reads

Adam Finkelstein ’20

Hooked on the importance of reading and tutoring since participating in a pre-orientation service program in his first year, Finkelstein, a biology major, now leads the March Elementary School tutoring program, one of six America Reads tutoring programs within Landis Center for Community Engagement. “I love the program and applied to be a leader and was accepted,” he says. “I’ve been leading it since my sophomore year.” Finkelstein says he loves working with the kids and values the importance of connecting with them and raising their awareness of science and literacy. Finkelstein credits Christine Cohen, Landis’ coordinator, for leadership and service, for pushing students to do their best.

Why I Love Landis

“I love the Landis Center because we connect with the community,” he says. “We read books and run activities to teach fourth and fifth graders leadership skills.”

Alisha Gangadharan ’21

POSP, alpha phi omega

Alisha Gangadharan

Gangadharan’s introduction to Landis came via Pre-Orientation Service Program (POSP), which provides first-year students the opportunity to arrive on campus a few days early in order to perform meaningful service work while building relationships with community members and peers. That introduction had a powerful impact on Gangadharan and has helped shape her Lafayette experience. “Intentional, meaningful service is the framework for how Landis approaches service work on campus,” she says. “I knew I wanted to be part of that type of work.”

Since then, Gangadharan, a history and international affairs double major, has been involved in many service-oriented activities. She has volunteered with a senior living home and adult-day center and has been mentoring tutored high school students. Perhaps her biggest service role has come via Alpha Phi Omega (APO). During her first year on campus, she witnessed the re-chartering of APO, a co-ed community-service fraternity on campus. The fraternity was founded at Lafayette in 1925, but it had gone inactive before it was revived in 2018. “Seeing how much this organization meant to so many people made me want to get more involved,” says Gangadharan, APO president. This leadership position enables her to plan, promote, and orchestrate student-driven community-service activities. She also maintains a collaborative relationship with other campus service groups, which ensures that APO is actively engaged in a wide range of efforts and activities. Doing good, she says, is more than just feeling good: “We have fostered meaningful bonds within the organization, as well as with other community partners because of our mutual love of service.”

Why I Love Landis

“Being a part of an organization like Landis gives you the chance to surround yourself with people who challenge you while also enabling you to discover passions that you may not have been aware of before,” Gangadharan says. “It’s such a unique space. You are surrounded by these strong leaders who oftentimes serve as your mentors but quickly become some of your closest friends in the process.”

Dani Gardner ’20

POSP, refugee action, food recovery network

Dani Gardner

 

Gardner not only fully embraced the mission of Landis when she first discovered the center via its Pre-Orientation Service Program (POSP), but she has used that experience and the lessons learned to inform and inspire the other service work she does on campus. The civil and environmental engineering major is co-president of the College’s Refugee Action group. As president of events and outreach, she works to educate the campus and bring awareness to the issue of refugee crisis and the needs of these families. “We have worked with an organization to successfully resettle a family in 2018, and we are actively working now with a second family,” Gardner says. “It was a relatively new club when I joined it. It’s been rewarding to see it grow and to be able to make a difference in these families’ lives.”

Gardner is also a founding member of the Food Recovery Network (FRN), a national organization, which works to donate recovered excess food and donate it to local shelters. Last year, Lafayette’s FRN group successfully recovered 2,000 pounds of food from the campus dining halls. “We noticed tons of excess food on the campus, and at the same time we are living in Easton, which has certain areas that have been designated as ‘food deserts.’ It was conflicting that both of these areas were so close. We realized that one had a need that the other could fulfill.”

Why I Love Landis

“Through Landis I have learned that the right thing to do isn’t always what’s been done in the past,” Gardner says. “With Landis, an important part of our work is the reflection on the service. It encourages us to constantly be learning and discovering how we could do something differently or better. I have found that lesson to be really beneficial in other aspects and leadership positions in my life.”

Creighton Hendrix ’21

Philanthropy Director of Delta Kappa Epsilon 

Creighton Hendrix ’21

Hendrix knows the power of helping others, whether it’s a middle-schooler who’s fallen behind in math or a developmentally delayed child who needs help catching a baseball. Hendrix grew up in a service-minded family and has been active in community projects his entire life. As a first-year student, he  spent Wednesday mornings at Easton Middle School, where he tutored a sixth grader who was struggling in math. “It was great to see how he improved; I think he enjoyed having a college student take interest,” Hendrix says. He is now philanthropy director of the College’s chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon, a position that entails planning, organizing, and promoting charitable activities that enrich the local community. One of the highlights for Hendrix is his work with Miracle League of Northampton. The organization provides an opportunity for developmentally delayed children to play baseball. Kids who otherwise wouldn’t get to hit a ball or round the bases get the chance to do so, all with fraternity brothers’ guidance and encouragement. Hendrix also has taken an active role organizing the Jeremy Saxe basketball tournament, an annual event held in honor of a fraternity brother who passed away in 2008. The money raised benefits children in Nepal. Hendrix is always working to come up with activities that will get his brothers excited about helping others: The fraternity recently volunteered at a dog shelter; later this month members plan to participate in the Miracle League’s Halloween celebration. “People are always very thankful to us,” he says. “I think some of them are surprised that fraternity guys are doing community service. It’s good to show them that philanthropy is an important part of Greek life.”

Why I Love Landis

“The Landis Center is amazing. It organizes so many events and makes it really easy for students to get involved. Community service is really important. I think a lot of us at Lafayette are very lucky and have so much. I think it’s good to recognize the needs in the community and to help others. There is so much to be done, and it feels good to feel like you are making an impact.”

Members of the Men’s Lacrosse Team

Tallied 500 collective community service hours in 2018-19

Members of the Men’s Lacrosse Team

When Pat Myers joined Lafayette as head coach of the men’s lacrosse team in June 2018, he not only wanted to push his players to perform their best on the field, he wanted them to strive to be their best off the field as well. By requiring each player to complete at least 10 hours of community service, he and assistant coach Scott Bieda (whom Myers credits for spearheading the effort) have built a team of citizen athletes. Not only did each player meet his 10-hour goal, but many exceeded it, which enabled the team to tally 575 hours of collective service (surpassing the original goal of 400 hours). “It’s given us an opportunity to build relationships in the community and on campus,” says Myers. “We use the mantra ‘grateful for everything, entitled to nothing’ to remind us to always be humble. As we grow as a program and become more successful, I want the team to remember to be grateful for what they have. Keeping the needs of the community in our heart is a good starting point for that mentality.” 

Players had many options for service work. Some read to local elementary school students, some packed boxes at a local food bank for seniors, some planted trees, some took an active role in supporting the campus group Pards Against Sexual Assault.  “I think community service has really brought us closer together as a team,” says Cole Dutton ’22. “We really feel a sense of brotherhood when we work together to help our community. Helping the community around us as a team is just an unbelievable feeling. I think we truly realize how impactful what we do can be, and it makes what we do that much more special.”

Why I Love Landis

“It allows you to get out of your bubble,” Myers says. “I’ve been able to watch our guys create special relationships out of their comfort zones. Watching those connections take place is extremely gratifying. It is important that we are grateful for everything we have. I am fortunate to coach here, and they are fortunate to play here, for a Division I athletics team. There are so many ways we can serve the community.”

Joann Ordille, assistant professor of computer science 

Girls Who Code, Kids Who Code

Joann Ordille

Computer science offers many opportunities. Yet, when you Google computer scientist, you don’t see a lot of diversity there. Our Girls Who Code and Kids Who Code programs are designed to show elementary students that computer programming is fun. Student mentors from Lafayette go to Paxinosa Elementary School once per week.  With help from their mentors, the elementary students program. You see names appear in letters on the screen. The letters spin, dance, and sing. On other days, cats meow and fly across the screen, or monsters are conquered. Students from diverse backgrounds become engaged. They take that first step toward computing. Student mentors offer encouragement. The only limit to what can be done is your imagination. From this diverse group of girls and boys will come the next generation of computer scientists, and Google will finally show us that anyone can become a computer scientist.

Why I Love Landis

Ordille hopes to make computer science accessible to everyone. She remembers being the only woman in her undergraduate computer science courses and seeks to foster computing communities where all feel welcome and included.  

“The Landis Center serves a vital role in reaching out to build these communities.  In programs like Girls Who Code or Kids Who Code, Lafayette students share the skills they have learned with others. There’s a saying, ‘You never learn something so well as when you teach it.’ Both our students and the students at Paxinosa benefit greatly from this program. Community-based learning is essential to computer science, because it opens up the world of possibilities for helping others through computing.  It helps us to see computing in its role of creating a better world.”

Tracy Piazza

Director of teaching and learning for grades K-5, Easton Area School District

Tracy Piazza

Tracy Piazza oversees all things related to elementary schools in Easton Area School District, and that involves creative collaborations with Landis. Last year, she helped coordinate a visit to campus involving all of the district’s fifth graders from the seven elementary schools, 700 of them who spent a day watching a girls’ basketball game and meeting the players and other student-athletes. “This year we’re looking to do that for fifth and sixth grade. It takes a little bit of coordination on everyone’s part,” she says. Piazza also supports coordination of during-school and after-school tutoring programs with students from Landis and visits to campus for fourth and fifth graders in the Community in Schools program at Cheston and Paxinosa Elementary schools. During their visits, the youngsters meet professors, have lunch in the cafeteria, and experience college life. “Lafayette students get to impress upon our elementary students the importance of working hard,” Piazza says. “Many children in the community schools are transient and from a lower socioeconomic base, so they don’t even necessarily realize that college is an option for them.” 

Why I Love Landis

It’s about the collaboration and partnership. “All of the people I have worked with over the years have been supportive of our elementary schools and have always sought opportunities for Lafayette students to be involved,” Piazza says. “Landis Center has always been just a phone call away and has stood the test of time. Good people and solid students who partner with us are willing to generate ideas and initiate new undertakings. We are grateful for our Lafayette and Landis partnership.”

Categorized in: Community, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Faculty and Staff, Featured News, Landis Center, News and Features, Students
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