2016-2017 Review from CBL Director

This year was full of transitions, fostering inclusion, and personal growth.

As we welcomed a number of new students to serve in the position of Community Mentor (CM) for the 2016-2017 academic year, CBL had the pleasure of working with a Graduate Assistant (GA), Ms. Lindy Pynchon, from the Education Dept. Lindy was tasked with overseeing the CM Program and providing leadership and professional development opportunities. With 22 CMs during the fall semester, Lindy had her hands full with planning and implementing staff meetings and workshops, one on one meetings with CMs, and working on a broader level to assist our CMs in increasing awareness about CBL on campus.

In September, CBL and Volunteer Services hosted a roundtable for community partners, faculty, and staff on “Building Inclusive Spaces”. Geoff Falen, Director, Career Connections, opened up the roundtable by sharing some information on Generation Z. Then, the following individuals served as panelists and described how their program works to build inclusive spaces and a sense of community within the population they respectively serve. Panelists included: Ashlee Downing, Coordinator, Volunteer Services on understanding: LGBTQ, Sharmela Garcia-Martin, Assistant Director, Disability & Accessibility Services Office, and Sara Trimm, Coordinator of International Student Services. In addition, CBL contributes to bringing the UNITY PROJECT to campus. Given the overwhelming participation, the planning committee is excited to bring the project back during the fall. Stay tuned!

“SLU in the Community” emerged as a collaborative publicity effort to increase awareness of the various programming occurring within CBL and Volunteer Services, and serves to showcase the accomplishment of our engaged students. In November, CBL regained its identity as an independent entity. For the time being, the Center for Civic Engagement is on hiatus and work is being done to reimagine its purpose and mission.

On a more personal level, this year has been extremely busy for me. I spent the fall semester volunteering at Riverview Correctional Facility, implementing a facility program called “Fatherhood: A Parenting Class for Men”. I am on the board of the Young Women’s Leadership Institute ( and co-chaired the conference planning committee, which had a successful conference in November. I served on the search committee for our new Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, and co-chaired efforts to increase programming for our Presidential Diversity Scholars. This spring, I stepped outside my comfort zone and entered the classroom to co-teach a First Year Seminar (FYS) with CBL entitled “Are You In or Out: What’s The College Gap.” This course included a travel component, once per week, up to Akwesasne, the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. Through this opportunity, six St. Lawrence students were able to work the teens from the Akwesasne Boys and Girls Club (ABGC). During their CBL experience, the students presented topics on the high school to college transition. I must say that my desire to be in the classroom has been sparked and I owe much of this to my colleague and teaching partner, Dr. William Collins.

As I look ahead to the fall semester, I am struck with bittersweet feelings. For the first time since 2004, I will not be on campus to greet the fall semester. There will be so much energy around course offerings with CBL (four new courses and two new FYPs), welcoming a number of new CMs into the CM Program, new students in the CBL housing opportunity, and the roll out of planned activities as part of the “SLU in the Community” Innovation Grant. Instead, I will be welcoming a baby girl in early August and beginning the rest of my life as a mom. Words are not enough to express how I feel about this blessing in my life.

Ready or not, I’ll return in November. Hopefully, it will be an easy transition back into work life. One thing that I’ll certainly need to be mindful of is work/life balance. I look forward to catching up on all the great work done in my absence. In fact, I’ll be back in time to begin planning for spring courses and other CBL programming. Have a wonderful Summer!