Making a connection

Making a connection

By Siobhan A. Counihan scounihan@sjnewsco.com

Using sponges, paintbrushes and an array of paints, a group of 10 incoming Rowan University freshman brought a splash of color to the Mother's Arms Daycare Center starting early Sunday morning.

The Noah's Ark mural on which the students diligently worked wasn't part of a mandated community service project, though.

Rather, it was part of the university's Freshman Connection, a program organized by Rowan's Office of Student Life that allows incoming freshmen to pursue one of three tracts service learning, adventure or arts and entertainment as they work to build relationships with their fellow classmates while sharing common interests.

Part of the "service learning" tract, Sunday's mural-painting was the first day of service-oriented activities that will give these freshman a jump-start on making friends before they move in this Thursday.

Elizabeth Somer, who graduated from East Brunswick High School this past June, said she chose this particular program for a multitude of reasons.

"I wanted to give back to the community," Somer said. "Plus I thought since it's such a small group of people it'd be a good way to get to know everyone."

"It's such a small program, I figured everyone involved would get to know each other and get close doing this," added Somer, who said she plans to major in elementary education with a dual major in writing arts and an honors concentration.

Kimberly Cogland, who's coming to Rowan from Old Bridge, said she signed up for the program not only because of her life-long friendship with Somer but also to make new friends.

"I've known Elizabeth since pre-school and she's my roommate, but that doesn't help when I go to campus or class," Cogland said. "Plus I've been volunteering my whole life."

Cogland, who plans to major in early education with a dual major in sociology, an honors concentration and a special education endorsement, said she's been enjoying the project.

"It's only been the first day, and it's been a lot of fun," Cogland said. "It's a lot of fun, and it's a great experience."

Stephen Seltzer said he joined the group not only because the project will benefit people but because it was a good chance to get out of his hometown.

"There's a lot of not-too-positive stuff coming out of there," said Seltzer, who's currently undeclared but focusing on political science and communications as possible majors. "There's way more positive stuff going on here."

Seltzer said he's had to perform community service before, but this time he was helping out because he wanted to.

"I chose to do this, you know, and this will help some people out," he said.

Jennifer Feldman, director of Mother's Arms which is located below the Mother/Child Residential Services shelter on Broad Street said the project will definitely benefit the kids in the daycare program.

"It's turning out really nice," Feldman said. "I'm really excited about it, and the kids are gonna love it when they come in on Monday."

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Date Published: Monday, August 27, 2007 - 01:00