Educating the City

Meet Sierra Eastman ‘20
Mathematics Education, Psychology
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
High School: Henninger High School
Activities: SU Literacy Corps, SU Bowling Club, CHAARG, School of Education Peer Advisor, Kappa Delta Pi

How does Syracuse University prepare you to be a Math teacher?

Beginning my freshman year, I’ve had field placements in schools across Syracuse. Early on it’s observational; we see how the students work, and the logistics behind the scenes. I’m getting manageable, hands-on experiences to prepare me for the student teaching I’ll do next year. It’s made me even more motivated to student teach.

Tell me about Syracuse University’s Mary Ann Shaw Center, where you work as an intern.

The Shaw Center, the University’s center for community engagement, has several unique initiatives that go out into the Syracuse City School District. There’s SU Literacy Corps, which tutors students in all areas of literacy, including Math. We also have Balancing the Books which teaches high schools about financial literacy. The Nutrition Initiative teaches students to cook recipes from around the world and increase their nutritional knowledge. Engineering Ambassadors is another initiative that provides hands-on science activities after school.

What’s your involvement with SU Literacy Corps?

We go into local schools and work with a couple of classrooms each week. My first semester, I worked with kindergarten through third grade students. With the second and third graders, we focused on math literacy: doing math facts, flash cards, or similar activities.

How has SU Literacy Corps impacted your Education classes?

Working with SU Literacy Corps has helped my confidence in the classroom during field placements, and given me relevant examples to talk about during class discussions.

Why should students consider volunteer work, such as the initiatives through the Shaw Center?

It’s a chance to get out into the community and be a role model for students.

Why should prospective students consider the School of Education?

The Education community is like a little family, which helps with class discussions as we feel more open to talk about real things. And within that family, obviously, is the staff. They work extra hard to get us what we need and take that extra step beyond the classroom to support us.

What has been your best memory so far at Syracuse University?

My favorite memories have been as a Freshmen Orientation Peer Advisor. Every year for orientation, we all dress up in our matching orange shirts and give our advisees tours around campus based on their class schedule. Ultimately, it’s a big support group, helping freshmen get all of the resources they need to succeed.

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Finding Your People

Students on the promenade

My roommate story continues this semester as my newest roommate, a transfer student who moved into the room my best friend vacated when she went abroad, packed up and dropped out last week. It was very sudden and unexpected, but there were external factors, and she was struggling to acclimate to such a large school. Sometimes it can’t be helped. It made me think, though, about what I like about going to a “large” university, with a little over twenty thousand students. I do like it, a lot, but I know that it’s not for everyone.

I like the anonymity that comes with going to a school where you can’t possibly know even a third of the population. It means that you meet new people every day – your classes are full of new faces. As I get more specialized in my major and take fewer gen-eds, I’m finding that I see more and more familiar faces, but even in classes of thirty there are always people I haven’t met. I like walking down the promenade in my own little world, getting my coffee and heading to class among people who are also doing their own thing.

Another thing that I like about going to such a big school is that it allows for a lot of diversity in extracurriculars. If I went to a school that had five thousand people in it, I probably wouldn’t have my pick of six different environmental clubs, each which focus on and do different things. I certainly couldn’t login to OrgSync, a portal for student organizations on campus, and find over three hundred different student organizations.

Around 70 of them are just greek life, meaning that there are 70 different social, leadership, or professional fraternities or sororities at your fingertips. If, like me, greek life isn’t your jam, that leaves just about 250 other things for you to try. Want to try hosting a radio show? We’ve got that. Want to join a religious club focused on outreach in the community? There’s a bunch. Want to write for a student publication about politics? Music? lifestyle? Campus news? Jerk magazine, 20 Watts, Equal Time, and the Daily Orange are all waiting for your voice. With so many clubs and orgs, it’s so easy to make your Syracuse experience unique, and find people who like the same things you do.

Even outside of clubs and organizations, with twenty thousand students – around fifteen thousand undergrads – there’s so much room to find other people like you. I can’t imagine that, if I’d gone to a small school, I’d have been able to pull together around ten other people willing to sit around and play Dungeons and Dragons with me. I’ve carved out my spot here at SU, and even though the University is big, I’ve never felt like I couldn’t find my people.

Meg Burnard ’20 is studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She grew up in Rochester, New York. Meg is a member of Democracy Matters, and in her free time she enjoys reading comics, going to concerts, and playing games with friends. More blogs from Meg Burnard.


Being an LGBT Student at Syracuse University

It is inevitable to feel a bit apprehensive about applying to colleges. You never truly understand the culture of a school until you are attending it. One of the many reasons I decided to attend SU was the amount of pride the school takes in supporting the LGBT community and ensuring a prejudice-free educational environment for everyone. In 2014, Syracuse University was ranked as one of the top 10 LGBT-friendly colleges in the nation by The Huffington Post. This ranking shows just how accepting the institution is of the LGBT community and that SU is constantly trying to ensure that everyone feels accepted here.

SU’s LGBT Resource Center is the on-campus source for anything relating to marginalized genders and sexualities. By encouraging meaningful dialogues exploring social justice, integrity, advocacy, and leadership through weekly discussion groups, students are able to come together and create a safer space for everyone. At the LGBT Resource Center, I often meet like-minded peers who take pride in their sexual identities and are active in various initiatives enacted by the resource center. For example, the “You Are Not Alone” annual campaign seeks to convey a message of acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and asexual communities. Every year, in honor of National Coming Out Day on October 11, the university releases a list of SU students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have penned their support for the cause. (check out last year’s list)

In addition, the LGBT Resource Center hosts events, socials, and fundraisers that align with their mission to break social barriers and boundaries. Last year, the resource center was able to bring “Orange is the New Black” actress, Laverne Cox, to SU to speak about her journey as a transgender woman. She gave significant insight on being a minority who is queer and how that has triggered many hardships in her life. She has been so inspirational to me and it was truly an honor to listen to her shed light on bullying and bigotry while educating people on misconceptions they have regarding the transgender community.

SU is a community that is welcoming and accepting of student backgrounds. Diversity is what accelerates this university forward and creates an environment that is suitable for all students. I have always felt comfortable expressing myself and being who I really am at SU because everyone is open-minded here. I have never witnessed or heard of any hateful acts committed toward LGBT students here and that’s a true testament to the myriad resources the university’s uses to educate students on sexual diversity. The university’s active efforts to demonstrate its support for the LGBT community continue to validate my decision to attend this institution and there is no place I would rather be than at Syracuse University.


Eric Chuang ’17, is a  Public Relations major at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a minor in English & Textual Studies. Additionally, he is part of the Fashion & Beauty Communications Milestone Program. Eric is a California native, dog enthusiast, fervent traveler, and sushi connoisseur. When not taking Buzzfeed quizzes or coming up with clever Instagram captions, he can most likely be found jamming to Taylor Swift’s “1989” album. More blogs from Eric Chuang.

Abroad for a Cause

Caitlin Grimm: bottom row, far right

Over winter break, Caitlin Grimm, a Syracuse sophomore, traveled to Honduras to volunteer with other students as part of the Global Medical Brigade. I sat down with Cait to talk about her unique experience.

What is your major/ dream job?

I am a Biology major, Chemistry minor and IT minor. When it comes to my dream job, I have a few different levels of dream job–my “within reach” dream job, my “a bit of a stretch” dream job, and my “reach for the stars” dream job. My “within reach” dream job is to be a clinical pharmacist (a pharmacist in a hospital setting). I love working with people, and so this setting would allow me to meet and help more people than if I worked in a retail pharmacy. My “a bit of a stretch” dream job would involve me going back to school to get my MBA, then working in pharmaceutical administration.  My “reach for the stars” dream job involves me starting my own company that works in health care reform.

How did you find out about this trip and what inspired you to go?

I found out about this trip through friends of mine who had gone on trips with the Global Medical Brigade organization before. One of those friends has since graduated, and now actually works for Global Medical Brigades in Nicaragua. I was inspired to go because of the incredible stories I had heard from them, but also because, I’ve always wanted to bring medical assistance to third-world countries, and so this was the perfect opportunity to start getting involved.

What were you most excited about and what were you most nervous about?

I was most excited about meeting the members of the community. I’ve never been to another country before (except Canada), so I was really excited to immerse myself in a completely different culture. I was nervous about a few things, mainly about speaking the language. I took Spanish in high school, but it had been so long since I’d spoken it that I wasn’t sure how well I’d remember.

Have you gone abroad before/ planning on studying abroad? How was this experience different that a typical study abroad trip?

Unfortunately, I haven’t studied abroad. However, I’ve had many friends who have, and I can tell you that an experience like mine is very different from studying abroad. First of all, it’s much shorter (one week compared to a whole semester). The experiences are very different because you don’t get to do as much on a trip like mine. The most significant difference though is the pure nature of the trips. Studying abroad is an amazing experience, but it’s very tourism-based. My experience was about as non-touristy as you can get, considering we were working in remote villages in the mountains of Honduras. It’s also a trip that eventually ends up helping and affecting so many people in the communities we worked in. I don’t mean to be cliche, but the feeling that comes with helping others is completely incomparable to anything else, and it is what made the trip so special.

What was something that surprised or intrigued you about Honduran culture?

The Honduran culture is so incredibly different from American culture in that almost everything I experienced in Honduras surprised me in one way or another. For example, it is not customary in Honduran culture to brush your teeth. This might not sound like a huge deal, but it actually causes major health problems. One of the main exports of Honduras is sugar cane, so all food containing sugar in Honduras contains pure cane sugar. This leads to the rapid development of cavities, and without dentists or teeth-brushing habits, untreated cavities can lead to infection and even death if the infection spreads through the body. Finding out things like this really opened my eyes and inspired me to want to continue working in communities like this for the rest of my life.

What is your favorite memory from the trip?

My favorite memory from the trip was working in a station called “Charla” in the medical clinics we set up. We worked with the children after they went  to the medical and dental stations and taught them healthy habits, like the importance of a balanced diet or how to brush their teeth. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but working with the children was so unbelievably heart-warming, and seeing the looks on their faces when we gave them their first tooth-brushes was something I’ll never forget. Most of these children don’t have anything to call their own, and their hugs of appreciation made the whole trip worth it. But even more rewarding than all of that was knowing that what we taught them would have a positive impact on the rest of their lives. This made me feel like we had left our mark on the community and that we would continue to influence these people’s lives, even after we were gone.

Do you have any suggestions for students who want to do a service trip?

I could talk for hours about service trips, but here are my top 3 suggestions:

  • Make sure you go on a trip with a reputable organization. There are many credible organizations you can go through, and there are multiple groups at Syracuse that organize student trips, but I have nothing but amazing things to say about the Global Medical Brigades organization that I went through. The local chapter at Syracuse is run by really incredible people and globally they are a very well-respected.  
  • Know all of your options for fundraising. Financing a trip like this can be a burden for some, but there are many ways to raise money and make the cost much more manageable. There are multiple options when it comes to fundraising, but I chose to go through a site called “”, which works directly with the Global Medical Brigade.  I sent out the link to my page to all of my friends and family around Christmas and asked for donations in lieu of gifts.
  • Make sure you have medicine just in case. The one thing I neglected to bring with me that I wish I had was cold medicine. Because of the drastic change in climate between New York in the winter and Honduras, I ended up feeling under the weather for a few days, and that was the last thing I wanted to be worrying about while on such an amazing adventure.

Three words to describe your experience?

Inspiring, fulfilling, joyful.


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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S(no)w Worries


When I tell people I go to Syracuse University, they usually ask me two things: how are the basketball games? and how do I deal with the snow? The basketball games let me first say are amazing. As for snow, Syracuse is one of the snowiest cities in the country so boots and long, heavy jackets are essential from January to late March. I got used to walking through snowstorms last year, but this is the first time I’ve had my car on campus, and driving is a whole other story.

I arrived to school this semester late on a Monday night, and classes started Tuesday. I drove in during a snowstorm, so I decided to park my car in a parking lot close to my dorm (a lot I am not actually permitted to park in.) When I woke up early the next morning to move my car back to South Campus, I groaned when I saw that my tires were almost completely buried. I had brought two shovels from home, so I called my roommate and together we started shoveling(shoutout to my awesome roomie.) After about half an hour, we were finally able to turn my car on and back it out a few feet. Unfortunately, our luck did not last. I don’t have four-wheel drive (basically a necessity in ‘Cuse), and my tires screeched and skidded in place. I would push the car, my roommate would try to drive, then we’d switch.

This lasted for about fifteen minutes until a few people, whom neither of us knew, walked by and asked if we needed help. They didn’t have any gloves on, and it was still quite dark, but they were adamant about helping us get the car moving. They put their backpacks down and pushed with me in the snow. We slipped, fell, and stumbled for another ten minutes, until finally the car backed out into the road. My roommate and I actually started cheering, and all I could say to those people was “Thank you so much!” As I drove to South Campus, I reflect on how nice it is to live in a community where everyone is so kind and willing to take the time out of their day to lend a hand to someone who needs it. Those people could have just chuckled at the sight of us and moved on, but they didn’t. They saw someone who was clearly having a tough time, and they took action to help.

Ironically enough, I also realized while I was driving back to South campus that I had my emergency break on the entire time we were pushing the car (facepalm). Well, that will be the first thing I check next time I get stuck in the snow!


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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What are Syracuse students thankful for?

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Syracuse students are heading home for a break from classes and a chance to see friends and family. (I personally cannot wait to see my dog and eat several plates of mashed potatoes.)

The classic Thanksgiving question is, of course, “What are you thankful for?” So, I asked a few of my classmates what they are thankful for as students at Syracuse University.

“I’m thankful for the diversity, specifically referring to clubs and activities that I can get involved in. Cuse offers an abundant amount of clubs and extracurriculars that students can participate in and campus is NEVER dull. There’s always stuff going on.”- Vida Hawkes, Citizenship and Civic Engagement and Policy Studies major, participates in Mock Trial and the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity

“I’m thankful for the friendships I have made and the communities I am a part of.”- Michelle Jordan, Public Relations and Marketing major, Hill Communications associate and member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority

“I’m thankful for the sense of community that I feel at Syracuse University. And the sports!”- Jacob Landis, Undecided, Dedicated Orange fan

“I’m thankful for the friends I have at SU. Being able to say I have friends all around the U.S. and the world is exciting. I am also grateful for finding a home here at Syracuse. I seldom get homesick because the environment here is so inclusive and welcoming. The academics are interesting and extracurriculars keep me busy.”- Jackie Page, International Relations major, participates in ROTC, Nourish International, Women’s Club Lacrosse and Color Guard


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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