Some Hamilton students know little about the neighboring city of Utica. For them, Utica represents nothing more than a train station and a throwaway answer to the frustrating question, “Where’s Hamilton?” For Kevin Alexander ’13, however, Utica is so much more.
Having grown up in Utica, Alexander appreciates the city for its deep reserve of culture and diversity. “I’m definitely proud of my Utica roots,” he says. “Growing up in Cornhill taught me a lot that I wouldn’t have learned growing up anywhere else. Utica is always changing. There are always new people coming in. So getting to know different cultures, getting to know different people, you learn to deal with different things.”
Apparently, you also learn to do different things.
Since high school, Alexander has stayed busy helping his home city. He spent the summer after his first year on the Hill working for Rust to Green — a research group that analyzed struggling cities like Utica and how to improve them. Upon finishing the internship, he directed his attention to a more personal method of outreach — Hope House.
Despite a busy class schedule centered around a sociology major and a women’s and Africana studies double minor, and despite an on-campus job working for the Audiovisual Center, Alexander devotes eight hours a week to Hope House. A community service, nonprofit organization, Hope House serves primarily as a soup kitchen, but also functions “as a liaison between its clients and other nonprofit organizations.” In other words, it gives back to the city Alexander cherishes.
Preparing to travel there this afternoon he offers, “Utica is my city, my hometown. I love it, I want to help it — so being able to get an education while being able to volunteer … it pretty much worked out.”