Connections

FEATURE

Faces of Change

Nazareth’s wide-ranging experiential learning projects bring benefits to students and the world in which they live.

by Erich Van Dussen

Jake Miller taking a selfie with students

Local resident Jake Miller regularly visits people he’s befriended on campus and continues to work on campus after completing the LifePrep@Naz program in 2018.

Forming connections with migrant families, young adults with developmental differences, and children navigating mental health challenges. Collaborating to apply new marketing knowledge and spur the success of a nonprofit across the country.

The examples in the stories that follow vary widely, but their shared bottom line couldn’t be clearer: Every day, Nazareth College students, faculty, and staff are discovering that there’s no shortage of ways for them to make a difference through community-facing experiential partnerships, in the local region and far beyond. Along the way, these opportunities are creating meaningful, even life-changing impacts — among the student participants, and among those with whom they engage.

The mutual benefits are an intentional part of the College’s vision for the work, according to Emily Carpenter, associate vice president for experiential impact, whose work includes Nazareth's Weider Community Engagement office. “We want all of our students to have meaningful experiences as a part of their time here, in and out of the classroom,” Carpenter says. “No matter what the specific situation may require, we know it needs to be done in a way that considers our varied academic disciplines while also respecting the goals of communities who are interested in partnering with us.”

Tapping into these opportunities takes creativity and resolve, and to Jamie Fazio ’97, director of Nazareth’s Center for Spirituality, the commitment clearly echoes that of the Sisters of St. Joseph — dating all the way back to the College’s founding, 98 years ago.

“Our community partners are exactly that: our partners. These are reciprocal relationships,” Fazio says. “The Sisters lived in the communities they were serving, and there was an understanding of solidarity with the people around them. These interventions create opportunities for mutual learning — a deepening of awareness and appreciation for what’s really happening in the world, and with one another.”

Carpenter echoes Fazio’s appreciation for the importance of the work and its connection to Nazareth’s history. “This legacy is a real and meaningful thing,” she says, “and it's important to keep it alive and well.”


Eric Van Dussen is a Rochester, New York, writer.

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