For many students beginning college, the first days of the year are a time to gather textbooks, get to know the campus, and put finishing touches on decorating one’s living space. For incoming students at Arcadia University, the first day of the academic year is a time to positively impact surrounding communities.
Across campus and the greater Philadelphia area, new transfer students and first-year students in the Class of 2019 gardened, cleaned, and painted for the annual New Student Orientation Day of Service. Buses and shuttles transported students to Philadelphia, Flourtown, and Warminster to organizations such as Carson Valley Children's Aid, Philabundance, and The Baby Bureau.
“I think it’s important because, whether [the new students are] from this area and bettering their own community, or from far...they’re learning to help with the community that they’re becoming a part of,” said Orientation Leader Kaitlyn McBryan ’16, who led gardeners in removing invasive plants at High School Park in nearby Elkins Park.
Arcadia students provided much-needed assistance to Gail Korostoff, Operations Manager for Friends of High School Park, which manages the property. Typically, groups of 10-15 help out around the park. On this day, they received more than 40.
“It’s a really nice continuing connection with the members of the community,” said Korostoff. “Over the years that I’ve done this, I’ve realized that a lot of [the Arcadia students] are really thrilled to know that this exists near their campus.” According to Korostoff, groups from Arcadia continue to volunteer at the park after the Orientation Day of Service.
The Day of Service has been part of New Student Orientation since 1991. Cindy Rubino, coordinator for the Community and Civic Engagement Center at Arcadia, notes that Arcadia became the first school in the area to include civic engagement in an incoming class’s orientation program.
“The Day of Service sets the tone that civic engagement is part of Arcadia’s mission,” said Rubino.
For Courtney Horst ’19, Arcadia’s service component helped the University stand out during her college search.
“Some of the other schools I looked at didn’t have such a strong focus on giving back,” she said. “It’s nice to have a school that has more of a focus on it.”
Taking a break from sorting books for Philadelphia READS, Horst reflected on another benefit to the service day: bonding with her new classmates.
“I’ve met some new people here today,” she said. “[The community service] has been helpful to get to know people.”