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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Falling for Fall at ‘Cuse

One of the many great things about attending Syracuse University is getting to experience four seasons and the fun activities that a new season brings.  Growing up in Connecticut, I have fond memories of apple picking with my family, carving pumpkins with friends and going to haunted houses every weekend in October. When I was a freshman, I worried I was going to miss out on all my favorite fall activities. However, I quickly discovered that Syracuse University, and Central New York in general, is the perfect place to be for fall fun.

For anyone who loves fall as much as I do, here’s my personal Syracuse autumn bucket list.

1.)  Go apple picking: Apple picking season runs from mid-August to mid-October, so you have plenty of time during first semester to pick your own healthy and delicious snacks. New York is one of the top five apple-producing states, so if you love apples, it’s certainly a great place to be. There are three apple orchards within a 20-minute drive from SU, and the Department of Recreation Services hosts a weekend trip to Abbott’s Farm apple orchards in September. How ‘bout them apples?

2.)  Get lost in a corn maze- There are several farms in Onondaga County that have annual corn mazes in the fall. Get a small group of friends together one weekend to have a great day outdoors. Want to make it more of a challenge? Shut off your phone so you’re not tempted to GPS your way out!

3.)  Take a hike to see the fall foliage – The rolling hills and dense forests of Central New York offer some great hiking destinations. My personal favorite is Tinker Falls in Tully. I’ve hiked the trail in the spring and fall and had A popular hiking destination among Syracuse students is Green Lakes State Park, just a 20-minute drive from campus. Don’t have a car at school? No worries! The Department of Recreation Services offers a day trip to Green Lakes, so be sure to sign up!

4.)  Go to a haunted house- If you’re like me and love a good scare around Halloween, Syracuse has plenty. From haunted houses to hayrides, Central New York has it all. Orange After Dark, a series of late-night programs and events for SU undergrad students, offers a bus trip at the end of October to Fright Nights at the Fair. Students only pay $3! Check out scarycuse.com to get information on other haunted attractions.

5.)  Go to a pumpkin patch: Want to pick your own little pumpkin for your dorm room? Visit a local pumpkin patch. You can paint or carve a pumpkin to spruce up your new dorm décor. SU offers shuttles to local pumpkin patches in October. If you have access to a kitchen, try baking pumpkin seeds. It’s a delicious snack!

6.) Experience the Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult classic and cultural phenomenon. When you go to see Rocky Horror around Halloween, don’t expect to just sit and watch- moviegoers are active participants in counter dialogue and scene reenactments, along with a designated reenactment cast. This year, SU drama students will be reenacting a performance at Schine Underground.

7.) Take a Ghost Tour: The Onondaga Historical Association offers guided tours of different locations in the area, focusing on local legends and haunts. This year, Ben Tupper, owner of Tupper Property Management, hosted free guided haunted tours of the university neighborhood the weekend before Halloween. Pretty spooky stuff!

8.)  Sign up for Run of the Dead: I discovered Run on the Dead freshman year when I was researching fun stuff to do around Halloween in ‘Cuse. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, this is the place to find it. Run of the Dead is a 5K obstacle course run that features “zombies” chasing participants through the course. Runners wear flags and dodge zombies while navigating the obstacles (mud pits, tires, monkey bars, etc.). Think Spartan Race meets a haunted trail of terror. This is by far my favorite Halloween activity. This year, a group of friends and I ran as a team and had a blast!

9.) Volunteer: Giving back to the Syracuse community is fun and rewarding, and there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the fall. I’ve volunteered at the Salvation Army and handed out candy to Boys and Girls Club members who trick or treat at dorms around campus. You can find volunteer opportunities on the Shaw Center website.

10.) Rewatch your favorite Halloween movie with your friends- Okay, so this one isn’t technically a Syracuse event, but this is something my friends and I do every October! This year, we watched Hocus Pocus to de-stress during midterms, armed with plenty of candy and popcorn. There’s no better way to relax during midterm madness!

This list is only a peek at some of the awesome things to do during the fall in Syracuse. Add your own!

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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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 “empowered.org”, 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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Giving Back to Syracuse


It’s easy to think that you’re in your own world at college, especially if you don’t have a car.  You eat, sleep, work and have fun within the boundaries of campus. And we have an amazing campus here at SU, but the reality is that we are part of the larger City of Syracuse community.

As students, we can take a little time out of our busy schedules to give back to that community. One of my most rewarding college experiences has been volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of Syracuse.

I started volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club the first semester of my freshman year. At first, I was only planning on volunteering until I fulfilled the community service requirement for one of my classes. However, I soon realized that volunteering was something I wanted to keep doing. As a sophomore, I still walk or ride the bus once or twice a week to the Central Village Boys and Girls Club to tutor and just hang out with the kids. I get the opportunity to work with amazing kids from diverse backgrounds. We definitely learn from each other, and volunteering is as much of a learning experience for me as it is for them.

Even though it’s just a couple hours a week, for me volunteering is an opportunity to interact with people that aren’t college professors or students. It is a reminder that we are all part of the Syracuse community, and as members of the community we can make a positive difference for ourselves and others.


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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