Students from Cornell University appeared with Mayor Byron Brown to sign the Buffalo Opportunity Pledge. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley reports the students are participating in a fellowship program, spending the last couple of months working in the city.
The students gathered around the Mayor in the lobby of his City Hall office. They are part of Cornell University’s High Road Fellowships program.
“These scholars are making a commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity,” stated Mayor Brown.
The student are gaining 'hands-on' work experience, engaged in learning at diverse organizations in the city.
The Partnership for the Public Good coordinated their work projects and students have been placed at various organizations including Bak USA, Say Yes Buffalo, PUSH Buffalo, Oishei Foundation, Young Audiences of WNY and Center for Employment Opportunities.
Lou Jean Fleron is Cornell's director of the High Road Program.
“And so each of their projects are different. Some of them are applied research, some of them are youth development, some of them are hands-on creations of community projects and so they work throughout the community Monday through Thursday,” Fleron explained.
“I wanted to be in this program so that I can learn the tools for community development and then apply them when I get back home,” said Jaylexia Clark, Cornell student from Tampa, Florida.
Clark is conducting her work at Learning Disabilities Association of WNY. Clark tells us it is importance of combining diversity and promoting the public good in preparing for a future career.
“I believe, as a nation, we all suffer from the same problems and systematic issues, and so traveling to one community, seeing what they’re doing, hopefully helping out, we can go back and apply the same skills, ideas and goals in our own community,” Clark remarked.
Cornell student Hal Schwimmer is from Pleasantville, NY.
“Doing good and doing well are not mutually exclusive and I’m just, every day as I worked there, amazed to see all the thought that went into the community helping create jobs in the area,” Schwimmer said.
Schwimmer is conducting his project at BAK USA. Schwimmer noted that his generation is very concerned about diversity and social justice.
“Anything you want go into these days it’s you know it’s an increasingly globalized world. There’s going to be a lot of interaction with people from all different classes, all different walks of life and you just have to, from early on get in your mindset to always think of others, try to help others, try to help the community as a whole,” said Schwimmer.
Megan Connelly, Associate Director of the High Road Fellowship. Connelly said allowing students to work in non-profit organizations gives them a perspective of an ‘important economic factors’ in communities.
“These students are exploring their career paths right now and see these as viable options for them, so even if they don’t go into a nonprofit field, they’ve still have had this experience and maybe they go on to serve their communities and these organizations in another capacity,” Connelly explained.
The students all signed the city's opportunity pledge now in its second year that calls for diversity, inclusion and equity.
More than 5,700 individuals have signed it so far. WBFO News learned that Friday the City is expected to host an event for the next phase, which is to hear from businesses and organizations, who signed that pledge, on how they are achieving diversity.