President’s Public Service fellowship gives university students opportunity to work with non-profit organizations over the summer

With the spring semester underway, students are already beginning to make plans for their summer and fall schedules. One of the most rewarding experiences that the University of New Haven has to offer is the President’s Public Service Fellowship. This fellowship is a paid position that takes place over the course of 11 weeks during the summer and a main goal of granting university students real-world experience with non-profit organizations and community service.
There are a variety of different organizations which the university regularly partners with. This past summer, students worked with New Haven Reads, Christian Community Action, Yale Prison Education Initiative, CitySeed and many more.
Delianne Ayala-Ramos, a junior forensic science major, worked
for New Haven Reads this past summer, where she helped tutor students to improve their reading skills. Her tenure at this organization opened her eyes to the plight of some in our community, saying, “My time in the President’s Public Service Fellowship made me realize just how privileged I am
in regards to my education.” She now regularly gives back to her community, and continues to work with New Haven Reads in a part- time position.
Senior Associate Dean of Students Ric Baker is a huge proponent of this opportunity, for both students and the community as a whole. “The fellows also act as a university ambassador to get them out into the community,” Baker said. “Students find that being exposed to some of the challenging needs in the greater New Haven area… they’re able to gain not only skills for themselves, but a better understanding of what’s really going on in the… community.”
Baker noted that the program has previously enrolled upward of 10 students as fellows but numbers have dwindled the three years
he has been involved, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and wide- spread leeriness “for people to go out into the community” as cause for fewer applications.
With COVID restrictions eased, Baker emphasized the marketing tactics employed to get more students involved with the fellowship, including information sessions held on Feb. 3 and Feb. 7 as well as advising faculty members to make their students aware of the opportunity.
A key aspect of the fellowship program is that it is meant to mimic the feeling of being in college during the semester, while still feeling like a true summer work experience. Fellows all live in university housing over the summer, engage in weekly team building events and submit reflection papers over the course of the summer using the university’s Competency Learning Experience.
Students are selected to work with non-profit and public service organizations which do not directly tie into their major or field of study. This is done intentionally, with the purpose of “expanding their world view,” Baker said. “There’s a lot more going on in
the city, and so this is a great opportunity to be able to bring our students out into the community and also bring the community into us.”
Ayala-Ramos experienced the positives of getting involved in
a new environment first-hand, “So although the Fellowship is designed to push you out of your comfort zone, it actually brought me back to a place I had once loved to be,” She said. “Now I read a lot more and still get to work with kids at New Haven Reads while still pursuing my degree, so I’m living the best of both worlds.”
The President’s Public Service Fellowship is available only to undergraduate students who will be returning in the fall 2023 semester. Graduate students can instead apply for the Fellowship Coordinator position, which Baker described
as a “supervisor/advisor to the students,” and they are responsible for working with fellowship sites and setting up co-curricular events.
The fellowship was created over two decades ago by University Chaplain Martin O’Connor and former Dean of Students Becky Johnson.
For more information or to ask any questions, email Dean Baker at [email protected].