Alumni encourage students to take a year 'on'
Many of today's college students favor the idea of taking a year off after graduation. However, several Binghamton University graduates recently came back to campus to encourage students to consider another option.
Five alumni talked to current students at the University Union on Nov. 6, in a panel session titled Take a Year Off By Taking a Year On! The program is a partnership between the Alumni Association and Career Development Center, meant to encourage students to pursue exciting domestic and international experiences.
Panelists were Kay Perkins, MA '86, a former Peace Corps volunteer; Avi Gordon '06, human resource coordinator for Reach to Teach; Stephanie Skiba '07, a teacher with Teach for America; Christina Muscatello '08 (pictured), an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer, and Jessica Beavers '09, serving with NYC Civic Corps.
Alumni on the panel said taking a year on can help young people decide what type of career to pursue, even if they already think they have a good idea of what they ultimately want to do.
"I have quite a passion for teaching, and I can't imagine doing something else," said Skiba, who teaches at P.S. 86 in the Kingsbridge Heights section of The Bronx. "I've decided not to go to law school."
"I kind of just fell into [Reach to Teach] as a senior," said Gordon (at left of photo with Skiba), who taught in Taiwan with Reach for Teach before taking on his current responsiblities. "I had no clue what I wanted to do. I heard about this and it was different. I never knew I'd become so passionate for it. I won't say it was an easy thing to do, but I lived on my own, got used to Taiwanese culture and made Taiwanese friends."
Students had questions about the application processes and educational requirements for the service programs. In addition, they wanted to know about the lifestyle and if they could choose where they'd be located. Culture shock, according to the panelists, can be expected when going a few hours away from campus or to the other side of the world.
"I had only been to New York City to visit," Beavers said. "It was a rough adjustment for me to live there. I didn't know anyone in this huge city. It was scary and exciting at the same time."
"The Peace Corps is a great thing for people to do," Perkins said. "I was in the Central Pacific on a beautiful island with white sandy beaches. It was like a dream, except that it was a very poor place."
The panel discussion was part of the CDC's Tap Your Passion series. Find out more at the CDC's website.