They’re the next generation of leaders in the public administration and non-profit sectors of society. Their deep commitment and dedication to helping others, and to giving back to the community, has brought three Baruch College students recognition, and a $4,500 scholarship each, thanks to the generosity of the American Humanics (AH) Next Generation Nonprofit Leaders Program (NextGen).
All three students–Alexandros Hatzakis (’08), Natalia Kostus (’08) and Holdyn Brand (’09)— have already demonstrated leadership potential through their volunteer work with various organizations and agencies around the city. Now, they will each begin a mandatory 300-hour internship with a local non-profit organization, to fulfill one of the requirements for AH certification.
The certification means that the students have the “skills necessary to succeed in a career in the nonprofit field.” The scholarship money is designed to help offset any expenses the students may have while performing their internship.
“I’m extremely happy and deeply honored by the fact that I got this scholarship,” said Brand, a Bronx-born junior who is majoring in business journalism. He is still deciding where he will do his internship, but the experience that he already has with community service may come in handy. Brand said that he has done “tons of volunteer work,” namely with the Salvation Army in Virginia, as a Spanish-language translator at a hospital, and as a volunteer at an autism institute.
Although the American Humanics program has been around since 1948, it is still a fairly new component at Baruch, according to Stan Altman, a professor in the School of Public Affairs and the campus director of the AH program. He said that the program is particularly valuable because it “gets undergraduates involved in the non-profit and human services sector” and helps to prepare them for their first job in those areas.
For Hatzakis, a public affairs major who graduates later this month, community service is a term that has basically been seared into his soul since he was a kid growing up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. “When my parents divorced, my family qualified for public assistance. Seeing how it helped us so much compelled me to give back to the community,” he said.
The honor student spent part of his youth volunteering at a Greek cultural school that he attended, and where he is now a member of the executive committee. Last October, he began donating his time to the United Way of New York City, working from 24 hours to 30 hours per week. He said he’d perform his Humanics internship with them as well.
Kostus, a graduate student who will complete her master of public administration degree this month, is already working in the AH campus office, located in the School of Public Affairs on E. 22d St.
A native of Poland, Kostus came to the United States by herself eight years ago, after receiving a scholarship to attend a university in Indiana. Between her time there and moving to New York nearly two years ago, she did a stint with a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm.
“I find great fulfillment in being a public servant,” said Kostus. She attributes her commitment to the hard times her family endured when she was a baby in then-Communist Poland. Whether or not she will return to Poland to utilize her skills and training remains to be seen. “We’ll see what happens,” she said. In the meantime, she’s got her hand in a few different organizations, including a United Nations-based one that is geared to helping women. In addition to the NextGen winners, two other Baruch students were awarded AH scholarships for the next academic year. They are: Carlos Ruiz (09) and Caitlin Hannon (09), both of whom are public affairs majors.
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