BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Freshman honors scholars from the University at
Buffalo will tour Buffalo on Aug. 29, sightseeing and visiting
civic organizations to kick-off a semester-long colloquium during
which they will complete nearly 10,000 hours of community service
in the city.
Buses will carry more than 300 freshmen to sites throughout the
city. The tour, coordinated by Buffalo Tours, is scheduled to begin
at 1:30 p.m. and conclude on the waterfront. Afterwards, the
students will dine at the Pearl Street Grill and hear a speech by
Aaron Bartley, executive director PUSH Buffalo (short for People
United for Sustainable Housing).
The Honors Colloquium is a required course for honors students.
The focus is on service learning, with each freshman volunteering
for 25 to 30 hours with one of dozens of UB's community partners,
including Alleyway Theatre, Friends of Night People, Compass House,
Habitat for Humanity and Buffalo ReUse. Readings and papers will
emphasize civic engagement and diversity.
In previous years, the colloquium placed students in positions
across Western New York. This year, for the first time, the focus
will be on the City of Buffalo.
"We want to show these students how they can be part of the
revitalization of the city," says Jessica Dudek, colloquium
instructor and an assistant administrative director of the Honors
College. "We find that a lot of students, even if they are from
Western New York, they're not really familiar with the city. We're
challenging freshmen to become engaged, so that they will be
engaged through all four years of their college education, and
This year's freshman honors class, with 324 members, is the
largest and one of the best qualified in the Honors College's
history, with an average combined math and reading SAT score of
1382 and average high school marks of about 97. The class includes
scholars from eight foreign countries and 11 states outside New
More than 20 freshman honors students with an average SAT score
of 1503 and average high school marks of about 98 are receiving
Presidential Scholarships to cover four years of tuition, housing
and other school expenses.
The Honors Colloquium encourages students to reflect on how the
education they receive in the classroom connects with their
experiences in the field. Through their placements, students also
pick up real-world skills.
"They work with other people on a team. They learn to be
responsible," Dudek says. "It's like a job. They are an ambassador
for UB. They need to be professional. They need to communicate
well. An honors education emphasizes experiences out in the world
that complement and animate classroom learning. Like conducting
research or studying abroad, performing community service and
thinking about what that service means can be one of the most
memorable experiences of a student's college career."
Stephanie Malinenko, executive director of the Western New York
Service Learning Coalition, says the UB colloquium's impact on the
community "is huge."
"This is such a model program of service learning for freshmen
that I have actually given the names of folks at UB to other people
who want to do freshman service learning," Malinenko says. "They
have spent a lot of time focusing on how to get students out into
the community, to give them a good experience and to hopefully
instill in them a sense that civic engagement matters. They're
dedicated to the city, and that's important. They want to make sure
the students understand that the health of the city is the health
of the whole region, and that you can't just ignore problems that
are difficult in a metropolitan region."
Zach Pace, a freshman honors student and Presidential Scholar,
says he is looking forward to learning more about Buffalo through
the colloquium. Pace, who grew up in the suburbs of Williamsville
and Clarence, visited a youth center on Buffalo's East Side last
summer while volunteering for Computers for Children, an
organization dedicated to increasing students' access to
technology. Pace called that experience one of the most important
of his high school career, and he hopes that the Honors Colloquium
will be similarly enlightening.
"I haven't really done a whole lot in the City of Buffalo, and I
think it's all too important to do something you don't normally
do," he says. "I'm all about learning new things, and I love to get
little glimpses of things that I haven't experienced. Working
somewhere like the City of Buffalo, it's still not somewhere that
I'm really familiar with. So I think that I can really glean a
whole lot of information from the experience, and get a better
understanding for the cultural differences between the suburbs and
"Life is not set in a classroom, and in order to be productive
in life, you need to be able to be productive outside the
classroom," Pace adds.
A physics major, Pace says he chose UB over schools including
Boston University and Cornell University because of the rich
variety of experiences available through the university and Honors
College. UB offered the opportunity, he says, to "do what I want to
do, do what I need to do, do what makes me happy and do it very
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.