Most students are heading back to school this week, as classes officially begin Wednesday.
However, a select group of 49 students has been living and working in Mahwah for over a week. The brand new undergrads are part of the college’s Leaders in Service 2012 program. Rising freshmen with an interest in civic engagement moved in a week before classes started to attend leadership workshops, do community service projects, see presentations by civic and business leaders in the community, and gain insight into the political process.
During the weeklong program, students were put into either a political tract, or a community service tract. While the political kids were writing to state senators or visiting the courthouse in Hackensack, the community service kids were volunteering at Habitat for Humanity or Oasis.
Brandon Martin, Ramapo’s Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement in the Center for Student Involvement, called the program “a great opportunity for our newest students.”
“It starts the students off on a path of being involved in their community,” he said.
The program, now in its third year, has grown each year, Martin said. This year, about five percent of the incoming freshmen class were chosen to participate. Over 80 students applied to be in the program, he said.
“I took a government class in high school that got me really involved in political campaigns,” Megan Garton, of Hamilton, N.J., said of why she decided to apply to Leaders in Service 2012. “I wanted to continue to be involved here, and this seemed like a great opportunity to do that.”
Amanda Glick, a fellow participant from Galloway, N.J., said she felt the program would also help her ease the transition into college and dorm life. “I have always been really active in community service,” she said. “I wanted to meet like-minded people. I think that will make first-year living easier to adjust to.”
The two, along with their 47 other new friends and their families, met last Monday at a reception held for students in the program. The group was welcomed to the campus, and the greater Mahwah community, by Ramapo faculty and staff, and township Mayor Bill Laforet.
Martin said the program is a great opportunity for active students to begin to get involved in the township. “They are going to be living here for the next four years, and I think this is a great start.”