Rutgers-Camden Freshmen Clean Up CityLast Edited:
Before hitting the books, hundreds of Rutgers University-Camden students are hitting the streets as they do their part to better the city during the university’s New Student Day of Service.
“From their first day here we want them out in the streets getting to know the community [and] getting to interact with our partners because this is their city too," said Michael D’Italia, program coordinator for engaged civic learning in the Office of Civic Engagement at Rutgers University-Camden. "They are a part of this community, and we believe it will shape and transform their educational experience on our campus.”
You’re here at an opportune time in the city of Camden and we count on you.
On Friday, August 31st, students were spread out across the city doing special projects for nonprofits and helping to clean up lots and parks.
“We want to get as involved as we can in the community and really give back because Camden does a lot for the Rutgers students," said Katie Fisher, a freshman at Rutgers University-Camden. "So, we really want to give back and better the community for everyone, not just ourselves.”
Some of the new students are actually from Camden.
“You feel judged a lot, especially when you say you’re from Camden [and] going somewhere else. [People] say, 'Oh, Camden’s so dirty,'" said Altagracia Fernandez, a freshman at the school. "It feels great to actually clean up and show people that Camden isn’t necessarily a dirty place, it just needs a little love.”
The mayor of Camden had a message for all those students that he said are now a part of the fabric of the city.
“You’re part of the renaissance. You’re here at an opportune time in the city of Camden and we count on you," said Frank Moran, mayor of Camden. "But we’ll be working collectively to make sure you have a wonderful experience here in the great city of Camden.”
Officials hope that Friday's Day of Service won’t be the last time that these new students volunteer in the Camden community during their time at Rutgers.
“Our hope is that by connecting with our partners and connecting with this community, students are going to find something that really sparks their passion and their interest," said D’Italia. "So, that as they go through their educational experience at Rutgers they are interacting on an ongoing and frequent basis with this city.”
For the students, Camden has the opportunity to not only be a place to learn, but also a place to call home.
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