Olusade Bi Oyalowo ’14 was completely unfamiliar with construction and rebuilding when she chose the work as part of her Urban Service Experience. One of two pre-orientation options offered by Hamilton to its arriving first-year students, the program — since renamed Outreach Adventure — gives small groups of first-year students the experience of serving in the Utica-Rome area for a week. Though it draws fewer students than the other pre-orientation program, Adirondack Adventure, “it seemed like the right choice” for Oyalowo, who has an extensive community service background, having volunteered with children and in soup kitchens back home in Bowie, Md.
The trip Oyalowo has chosen serves at multiple sites throughout the week. Today, she and other students are working with Helping Hammers, a local group of volunteers from nearby Oneida. Together they begin the process of converting an old house into a thrift store whose profits will benefit the group. Oyalowo and her companions spend the day scraping paint off the outside walls and pillars, then repainting. She has done neither before, so she is excited and intrigued to be experimenting with something new.
While she admits that coming to Hamilton intimidated her, especially academically, Oyalowo quickly finds that her service effort offers more than just “the chance to make new friends.” It also “gives you a jump-start to getting involved, including a lot more volunteer opportunities.”
It seems pre-orientation is only the beginning of new opportunities for Oyalowo at Hamilton, where she plans to continue trying new activities and classes over the next four years.