UCicago freshmen meet and learn from community leaders


As a result of these conversations, over 300 UCicago students also participated in one of 14 service projects supporting nonprofit organizations in communities surrounding the university. The projects included landscaping, building picnic tables, painting, organizing educational materials, providing technological assistance to older people in the area, cleaning up the park and a variety of other forms of support. The projects were the first of many opportunities students will have throughout their UChicago years to engage with the University’s extensive network of long-standing community partners.

Virginia Wright, a freshman who grew up on a farm in rural Kansas, said she found the day’s activities “incredibly revealing.”

“I come from such a small community, I never really knew this stuff was going on and I’m really excited to start being able to give back to this community that has already welcomed me and allowed me to go to college. ”she said.

Wright was among the students in Walton’s Engage session and also heard about avenues for engaging with local K-12 schools from local school board representative William H. Ray Elementary , Katie Gruber. Wright volunteered for after-school programs for underprivileged children in Kansas and said the workshops and exchanges with community leaders at the Engage event motivated her to get involved in similar tutoring programs or mentorship in the South Side.

“At UChicago, we encourage our students to see the city as an extension of their campus and hope that ‘Engage’ has given them, most of whom are not from here, the opportunity to understand some of the ways whose Chicagoans are working to strengthen their communities, ”said Shaz Rasul, executive director of Education Partnerships and interim director of the University Community Service Center. “As an urban research institution, the University is in a unique position to connect our students to meaningful ways of learning, thoughtfully engaging and contributing to their new city and we are delighted that so many incoming students had the chance to take this first step through this event.

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