Over the past ten years, the High Road Fellowship has brought Cornell University undergraduates to Buffalo as part of a program to give the students the experience of working for locally-based economic groups.
Over the weekend High Road held an event at WNED/WBFO downtown Buffalo studio with Cornell ILR in Buffalo to launch Careers in Public Service. It is a new initiative to get students involved in government.
Co-founder Lou Jean Fleron said the idea of High Road was to get college students involved economically at the grassroots level. Now students can get involved in the local political spectrum.
“Well we hope it actually just spurs interest in being a part of democracy directly. I think that given the challenges we all see around us in making government work at all levels, that there is a real opportunity from the local area and the state area to give students an idea that they can really make a difference in how government works.”
Fleron said the program has received support from local politicians from across both sides of the aisle.
New York assembly member Sean Ryan was also on hand for the event.
“Bringing in all of these bright young students from all over North America, they come in to Buffalo with their worldview and their experiences and while the students are learning every summer, we are learning from them at the same time. So it’s a great give and take with the students.”
As an assemblyman, some of Ryan’s legislative concerns have centered on increased investment in education, redevelopment on Buffalo’s West Side and refugee resettlement programs.
“Truly I think the best part of this program is that each year, we are bringing in two dozen ambassadors who are going to thoroughly indoctrinate about how great Buffalo is. Its strengths, its weaknesses. And they’re going to go out and become leaders, whether in the national and international economy, but they’re going to have a Buffalo spirit in them.”
Both Fleron and Ryan would like to see the program expand. It is currently a summer program but plans are being made for a semester-long internship program and winter sessions.