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Community Work Study Spotlight

Each month, two individuals participating in the Community Work Study (CWS) program will be chosen for the CWS Spotlight. They are picked based on strong commitment to the program and positive feedback from their associates. 

January 2013

Elicia Young, Senior, second-year student in the CWS Program

Q: What interested you in the Community Work Study program?

I loved knowing that I would be able to help make a difference in my community. I wanted to learn more about the West Haven/New Haven area. I wanted to reach out to others and really give my time and energy to help this non-profit. After working all summer at IRIS, i knew that I wanted to continue to help the clients. 

Q: What do you do at your organization?

I work in Employment Services at IRIS. I help our refugee clients that have come to America find jobs so they can support their families and become self-sufficient. I assist them in making resumes, cover letters, and applying for jobs in the New Haven area. I also bring them to job interviews and teach them the basic tools on how to get a job and keep a job in the US. 

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?

I think that the most rewarding experience for me has been getting to know my clients. They are from all different countries such as the Middle East and Africa. They have amazing stories and teach me about their culture. My favorite moments are where we successfully find them a job! I love knowing that I am helping them reach the American dream. They are one more step closer to becoming self-sufficient.

Q: What is the best part of the program as a whole?

The best part of the program for me is that they really assist students through the whole program. They check up on us to see how we are doing and even come to our site to see what we do. We hold reflection sessions which is great to hear about the other students organizations and for us to spread awareness about ours. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. They are so invested in the program and it makes you feel that that you are a part of something that makes a difference in the community.

April  2013

Kim Hernandez, Sophomore Criminal Justice major and second-year student in the CWS Program

Q: What interested you in the Community Work Study program?

I was interested in the ability to get to know the community and those that live in the area better. This opportunity helped me get to know West Haven as a city and all that it offers. I have been able to me branch out and get to know really important people like the mayor John Picard.

Q: What do you do?

I work for the West Haven Chamber of Commerce, which is the heart of all businesses in West Haven. We set up events where businesses promote their services and network with others. We unite all these talented people in hopes to help each other out and build connections.

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?

The most rewarding experience I have had with the Chamber so far is the recognition I have earned through hard work. My bosses speak highly of me to others and it only motivates me to work harder and step it up even more.

Q: What is the best part of the program?

The best part of the program is that I am treated like an adult. I have responsibilities and they expect me to perform at a high level. At all of the events that are held I am introduced properly and receive respect. Also i get the inside scoop on all major events that are going on in the city.

 

Nicole Fauteux, Junior Communications major and third-year student in the CWS Program

Q: What interested you in the Community Work Study program?

I have always been interested in community service so when I was asked if I wanted a job in this program and it was an instant yes. It feels good to know that you are helping an organization that really needs help but can't afford it. 

Q: What do you do?

I am a library aid at Notre Dame High School. I assist in cataloging books and basic tasks of running a library.

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?

Getting to know the students and faculty better and having real conversations whether it is about a book or what they did that weekend is really rewarding. I feel like I am a part of their community and that I am really helping others.

Q: What is the best part of the program?

The best part of this program is that UNH gives students the opportunity to help organizations for free on their end and we still get paid. It is really hard financially being a college student so to get paid to help others and make an impact on someone's life is a great feeling.

March 2013

Brittany Smith, Senior Criminal Justice major and third-year student in the CWS Program

Q: What interested you in the Community Work Study program?

I love to volunteer, and even though I am getting paid through the work study, I feel like I’m helping an organization get through their work day without having the burden to spend extra money to pay for someone to help. I love working in the community I live in. Since I have been living in the community for about four years, I feel like I need to go beyond UNH's campus.

Q: What is the best part of the program? 

Just getting to see all the different aspects of MADD is the best part; it’s been a great experience thus far. 

Q: What do you do?

A little bit of everything; I assist in helping run programs like the MADD Alternative Program or Red Ribbon Week, organize walks, assist in victim impact panels, help prepare victim impact statements, and court monitoring. I also aid with organizing programs through data sheets and inputting of applications so that they are easily accessible to MADD workers.

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far? 

 Helping take the load off of some of the girls in the office- I organize their programs, applications, attendee spreadsheet, etc. It feels good to know that it's one less thing they have to do and I took some weight off their shoulders.

Johanna Krebs, Brittany’s Supervisor and Program Manager at MADD

Q: Why were you interested in having a CWS student from UNH?

MADD CT has been working with UNH for almost 5 years, providing opportunities for students that have an interest in the criminal justice field. CWS is another way to provide real world experiences to students.

Q: How has Brittany contributed to your organization?  

Brittany has taken the opportunity to its fullest potential, participating in all aspects of our mission, events, activities and assisting staff members in their program development. She has been open and willing to take on any task she has been assigned.

Q: What is your role at MADD?  

 My current title is Program Manager; I oversee the youth initiative team and other programs. I have been with MADD for 8 years and in that time my titles have included Youth Coordinator, Victim Service Specialist, and Court Monitoring Specialist. Since I have experience in the different areas of MADD’s mission, I feel able to provide UNH students with a variety of opportunities.

Q: In your opinion, what is the best part of the program?  

Giving a wide range of experiences to the students that have an interest in the criminal justice field- they have opportunities to attend court, hear criminal case proceedings, assist victim advocates, and attend Law Enforcement events. They can experience how a nonprofit works and participate in other areas of the mission; assisting at court order programs, and educating parents with MADD’s research-based program Power of Parents.

 

February 2013

Kim Acosta

Kim Acosta, Freshman clinical/community psychology major and first-year student in the CWS Program

Q: What interested you in the Community Work Study program?
The fact that they were all jobs that made a difference, even if it was a little one. I wanted a job that had variety and would make me feel like I actually did something worthwhile each day. In addition to that, I realized this would be great on my resume and is an experience that can be used in any career path.

 Q: What is the best part of the program?
Nikki Seymour and Sally Anastos put a lot of thought into placing students with a suitable organization. Orientations with supervisors make things clearer and the faculty is so supportive.

Q: What do you do?
I work at IRIS; we welcome refugees to America and help them make new lives here. I’m a Case Management Assistant, but you get experience in everything, which is great. You can spend a day helping the kids in daycare while the parents are in English classes. I've spent some days on the phone with UI, or at Bank of America helping one of the refugees open a bank account of their own. We strive to achieve self-sufficiency for the refugees.
 

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?

The fact that the refugees are grateful for anything you do; one time a lady hugged me for helping her with paper work, and the other day a child gave me a gift she made in class. Meeting these people and experiencing what they bring with them from their country; seeing a refugee get a job, or achieving anything that gets them closer to being independent is rewarding.

Pema Bhutia, Kim’s Supervisor and Case manager at IRIS

Q: What is your role at IRIS?

I am a case manager. My department provides referral, translation, transportation, crisis intervention, and counseling services.

Q: Why were you interested in having a CWS student from UNH?

IRIS has a history of benefitting from the contributions of UNH students during the summer and so we were eager to work with the CWS program to be matched with a student during the year.  UNH students are committed, hard-working, love our mission, and want to help!

 Q: How has Kim contributed to your organization?

Kim is an integral part of the case management department. She is responsible for taking new refugees to apply for their Social Security Cards, conducting public transportation orientation, helping clients to open a bank account and set up utility accounts, and taking the refugees to the DMV to get non-driver State IDs. Occasionally, her Spanish-speaking skills are used to help us communicate.

Q: What is the best part of this program?

We love being able to rely on Kim to come in each week. Because she’s committed to a regular number of hours per week, we can train her to do certain jobs, and rely on her to accomplish those with new refugees we’ve resettled!  We also appreciate that she has the support of the work-study program and Service-Learning department at UNH!

 

January 2013

Emily

Emily Walker, a sophomore serving at Connecticut Voices for Children (CT Voices)! She has been with the program for two years.

Q: What interested you in the Community Work Study program?

The larger pay sparked my eye at first, but I soon saw all of the great experiences available to work off campus. It has helped me to learn how to navigate around New Haven, get comfortable with the bus service and interact with people not affiliated with UNH.

Q: What do you do?

I'm an office manager who assists  the employees of CT Voices.   

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?

The most rewarding experience so far is meeting many intelligent people that are all working towards a common goal of improving the lives of children in CT.  Working with them has opened my eyes to  the hard work that is done behind the scenes to help children.

Q: What is the best part of the program?

The best part of the program is being able to find the right organization to work for. This  makes it much more manageable balancing work and class.

 

Mary Jennings

Mary Jennings, Emily Walker’s supervisor at the CT Voices.

Q: Why were you interested in having a CWS student from UNH?

As a nonprofit we are always trying to find affordable solutions.  I have always been a fan of employing work-study students.  It is a great program.  Students acquire real work experience  and employers can afford part-time employees.  

Q: What is your role at CT Voices?

 I am the office manager.  I handle the administrative, accounting and HR responsibilities.

Q: How has Emily contributed to your organization?

 Emily is wonderful.  She is smart, helpful, and friendly.  Since this was her second year with us the training has been minimal.  With little supervision or instructions we can give her any task or project. 

Q: In your opinion, what is the best part of the program?

The best part is being able to hire reliable part-time help.  It can be difficult – first to match the student and employer, second to train, and third to hope the work-study student will continue next year. 

 

December 2012

Selena

Selena Quintanilla, a sophomore serving at the West Haven Child Development Center. She has been in the program for two years.

Q: What interested you in the Community  Work Study program?

 I was interested in the CWS program because it is a great way to become part of the community and meet new people. The work is fun I interact with kids all day while getting paid. It couldn't get any better.

Q: What do you do?

 I am a classroom helper at the West Haven Child Development Center. I help teachers with paperwork, decorate bulletin boards, and do fun activities with the kids. Interacting with the children is the best part of my job.

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?

 The most rewarding experience has been the connection I've made with the people I work with and the kids I take care of.

Q: What is the best part of the program?

Interacting with the children is the best part of my job. It's a great feeling knowing that I am connecting with the community outside of school.

 

Chloe Williams

Chloe Williams, a sophomore serving at the West Haven Child Development Center. She has been in the program for two years.

Q: What interested you in the  Community Work Study program?

 I decided to join the CWS program because I wanted to work somewhere other than on campus. I thought that it would be an adventure to have to travel to a new place for work. I picked working at the High School because I always wanted to work in a position where I would be working with books.

Q: What do you do?

I am a Library Assistant at the Notre Dame High School. I assist my supervisor with running the media center at the library.

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far?

 The most rewarding experience is getting to know all of the students, as well as the staff at the school.

Q: What is the best part of the program?

The best part of the program is feeling that you are making a difference in the community.