Sayashmini is our Student of the Month for January 2014. In her own words:
I’m a biology major at Queens College, and my service placement is at Queens Central Library. I work as a Programming Assistant in the Teen Space, which just opened. Service Corps members had a chance to create projects and execute them. Part of our work was to assess what’s happening. The first week that we started, we had a meeting with all of the Service Corps members. We discussed projects that we wanted to do.
I decided to start a Teen Science Lab. I’m proud of this because I’m able to introduce scientific topics and reinforce them. I wanted to introduce teens to the natural world. You’d be surprised what teens aren’t learning in high school! Topics that I’ve covered have included cell structure, pond life, and the structure of a flower. Some of the teens got books on pond life afterwards.
We started Teen Talk in our second week. We were observing dynamics – teens coming in and out of the library, some in little groups, some by themselves. We wanted to create a safe space where teens could talk about issues in their lives and find a resolution. We reserved a conference room and made rules. There is a theme for every talk. The first one was about cyberbullying. We were overwhelmed by how much the teens opened up. We were mediators. We did not share our own personal experiences. At the end of this, it became a program. Teens love to participate in it. We’re able to address issues within the community of the library.
One of the biggest surprises for me is that most of the teens I’ve met are uninformed about their future opportunities. Countless teens have approached me with questions about college. It’s an honor for me to help them through these questions, but I feel disappointed in the education system because they are not getting this information. I’ve approached my supervisor about finding ways to get them this information. I’m interested in policy work in the future. One of my goals would be to start a scholarship program for underprivileged students who want to have information and access to college.
I stepped into the Corps not knowing that I’d learn as much as I have. I’ve had the opportunity to teach and gain knowledge. It shapes my thinking of the world around us and makes me more thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given. It helps me to grow as a future leader. The Corps is a unique opportunity for CUNY. It sets us apart from other universities. We’ve been able to take what we’ve learned in the classroom and we’re able to apply it in a real-life setting.