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Morrisville State College CSTEP Students Spend Part of Summer Working With At-Risk Youth Through Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection

MORRISVILLE, NY —Kimani Smith was looking forward to summer break. The Morrisville State College student had a job lined up as a loan officer at home in Manhattan, NY, and was anticipating connecting with friends and enjoying a little rest and relaxation.

But he chose to stay on-campus instead, along with five other Morrisville State College students, to do something out-of-the-ordinary and personally rewarding.

Six students from the college’s Collegiate Science Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) spent a month working through the Hillside Work Scholarship Connection (HWSC), tutoring students, engaging them in social activities and helping the organization develop a summer program.

HWSC helps Syracuse middle and high school students at risk of dropping out stay in school by providing tutoring, mentoring, after-school programming, job training, life skills and part-time employment. The organization partners with local foundations, employers, and higher education institutions to offer scholarships and incentives for students to continue their education beyond high school.

Some may call what they did a sacrifice, but to the Morrisville students who worked with HWSC, it was an inspiring experience.

Robert Petillo, of Queens, NY, an entrepreneurship and small business management major at Morrisville State College, needed a job to help pay for college and a business venture he’s pursuing there. He enthusiastically agreed to work with HWSC, but not only for the financial gain.

“It was a great opportunity for me,” he said. “I knew I could really learn from this experience.”
It was more than he anticipated. 

“This gave me a great personal feeling,” Petillo said gesturing to his heart. “I left there knowing I made an impression and someone learned from me.”

The CSTEP students, who worked full-time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., benefited from the experience, which included helping HWSC students study for Regents Exams, answering math and global history questions, socializing and much more.

In addition to working individually with HWSC students, Morrisville students worked as a team, assisting with curriculum development and gathering important data.

“Morrisville was a wonderful group to work with,” Lisa Berardi, manager with HWSC, said. “They were very involved and were interactive with everything they did. They brainstormed. They took ideas to the next level and were very creative.”

Morrisville students were chosen for the summer work based on their overall participation in CSTEP, academic achievement and community and volunteerism spirit, Darshini Roopnarine, CSTEP assistant director, said.

Their participation with HWSC left a lasting impression.

“This was something very rewarding – helping someone graduate from high school and potentially go to college,” Smith said.

They also learned valuable lessons.

“I learned to be more patient, to encourage, to be a role model and to never give up on people,” Petillo said.

“What clicks with me is that someone in life did not give up on me which was the reason I was there to help them, so I couldn’t give up on them,” Smith said.

One of the memorable moments Morrisville students had working with HWSC students was seeing some of them graduate.

“That’s when I really saw—when it really hit me that what I did wasn’t for the money,” Smith said.
Morrisville State College offers more than 80 bachelor and associate degrees and options including a new bachelor degree in business administration, a bachelor of technology degree in criminal justice and an associate degree in renewable energy technology. 

Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.

The six CSTEP students who worked through the Hillside Work Scholarship Connection (HWSC) were:

Miguelina Rodriguez, an accounting major from Bronx, NY
Jazzie Nunez, a business administration major from Bronx, NY
Shadrach O’Sayomi, an architectural studies and design major from Bronx, NY
Kimani Smith, an entrepreneurship and small business management major from Manhattan, NY
Robert Petillo, an entrepreneurship and small business management major from Queens, NY
Michael Roberts, a health-related studies major from Waterville, NY