On making community connections

Back when I was a sophomore in 2009, I was a member of Catalysts for Intellectual Capital 2020, a leadership/entrepreneurship seminar. This course radically changed my path, not only my course of study but my outlook and attitude.

After five years in Binghamton I can really see the divide between the campus and community, which was first brought to my attention in CIC 2020. The time is ripe for connections to be built and solidified. CIC 2020 planted a seed in my mind. That seed has grown to a real idea and a real event!

Today, I am pleased to announce, we put down the deposit today for the first BScene event! This social mixer/networking event will be on December 1st at Mad Moose in downtown Binghamton, a great local restaurant known for its pizza and BBQ. The Graduate Management Association has agreed to be our co-sponsor, and we are working with other groups as well. As a team we are really excited and some great ideas are floating around. It’s crazy to think this idea of mine is finally coming to life, three years after CIC.

At the time, I didn’t really understand what was happening or what we were supposed to learn as we went through the semester meeting with community leaders, business owners, artists, managers, government officials: people who had a stake in the community. Each week was different, and each week we picked up new knowledge. I still can’t tell you precisely what we learned, but overall I grew to feel like I had a stake in the community as well. What I can say is it started the moment I got on a Binghamton University bus to get to the Downtown Center. Suddenly I was no longer restricted to campus, and downtown was at my fingertips.

CIC 2020 at WSKG studios

Throughout the semester, we developed and wrote research papers on our own topics, and presented to a huge audience of peers and community members. I remember starting off the presentation, since my topic was about First Year Experience and Orientation, and how getting students involved in the community right away was essential to maintained involvement throughout the rest of their college years.

CIC 2020 led to an internship the following semester at a law firm downtown. I soon realized law was not the right path and quit. Quitting was hard for me, since I like to stick to my commitments. Finding the strength to quit turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

I considered another law-related internship, but after the interviewer actually picked up his phone and rudely talked for 10 minutes while I sat in his office, I decided it simply wasn’t for me. I made my way to the offices of Southern Tier Celebrates!, whom I had met through CIC 2020. Going to their office was just like going home. They were located right in the heart of downtown Binghamton in the airy MetroCenter. There were wonderful masks on the wall. Huge boxes of art supplies. Lovely people. I asked if they needed an intern and was able to start the next week.

Over the next few months I was thrown into a whirlwind of art supplies, crazy hats, flamenco dancers, artist contracts, dance studios, and flyers. I hung up posters in every business in downtown Binghamton. I can say I’ve traveled every inch of downtown. I spoke to so many people and really learned what was going on. During those months, I worked with them as they planned First Night, an incredible community-wide New Year’s Eve celebration. I still have the poster for First Night 2010 in my room; autographed by the artist, a local Binghamton painter.

I came back to Binghamton for New Years so I could experience First Night and had an incredible time. Unfortunately, over the next year, Southern Tier Celebrates! ceased its operations. The community lost a valuable resource. Sharon Ball, the Executive Director of the Broome County Arts Council elaborates in this blog entry.

Midnight Bonfire at Southern Tier Celebrate's First Night Binghamton 2010 outside the Veteran's Memorial Arena

Working with Southern Tier Celebrates! made me feel like I was actually a part of something, a part of Binghamton. I could go on and on about the importance of internships and being connected to the community. Honestly that one class CIC 2020 changed my life. I am pursuing a MBA now, and hope to pursue non-profit administration. And I am now working at the Center for Civic Engagement at Binghamton University, which exists to help students become involved in the community. Things have come full circle, but it is much more than that. The seeds planted back in sophomore year are now taking root.

3 thoughts on “On making community connections

  1. Sounds like the tree has already grown and your first BScene event is the first flower to bloom. Inspiring Sarah keep up the good work!

  2. It’s been great to see you progress towards the light of what you want to do, and do so well. Good luck with BScene.

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