CCEEL For Students

Hispanic Center Students volunteering at the United Passaic Organization's Thanksgiving

Giving help to those in need: Hispanic Center students volunteering at the United Passaic Organization

The United Passaic Organization hosted a group of Hispanic Center Students who lent a hand during holiday preparations. This experience helped both he community and the students. Let’s learn what they had to say:

“It was quite touching and wonderful to see the people’s faces as they received their full Thanksgiving meals” (Nicolas Rios)

“In my group, we were all united, and we knew how to organize our time and the work we had to do. Some of us were in charge of distributing food supplies, others were in charge of the coffee, others were in charge of the entrance, and others were in charge of the crowd control. It was easy; the hours were flying and it was really nice to have the chance to help people who needed” (Valeria Suarez)

“It was a great experience, in my opinion. It felt good to help people and spend time with my group members” (Randy Alburez).

Summer to Remember: My Marketing Internship Experience with Main Street Business Alliance, Downtown Hackensack 

CCEEL students, image for students page

Gaby Ramirez, Marketing/eSports

Hey there! I’m Gaby Ramirez, a senior majoring in Marketing, and minoring in Esports. I am pursuing a 4+1 combined degree in BS-MBA Leadership and Managing Innovation, at the Silberman College of Business, Fairleigh Dickinson University. This summer has been an incredible journey as I embarked on an internship with the Main Street Business Alliance (MSBA) in Downtown Hackensack, under the mentorship of the Executive Director, John Peters. I’m thrilled to share my experiences, insights, and growth during this memorable summer. Working under such an intellectual professional. 

My internship consisted of these main responsibilities: Engaging with the community, helping organize town events, attending board meetings, and my assistance with the trend report.

Working Around Town: 

My internship with MSBA gave me the unique opportunity to immerse myself in the vibrant community of Hackensack. From the very beginning, I learned that we did a lot of our business on foot. We explored the town, visiting local businesses, and understanding the unique character and culture of Downtown Hackensack. Realizing that MSBA truly cared for the development of the city, citizens and small businesses was refreshing in a world where small businesses and minority groups are often overlooked. 

Planning Events: 

One of my favorite aspects of my internship was working on event planning around the city. The MSBA hosts a variety of events throughout the year to promote the town and its businesses. John kept me involved during the entire process, from brainstorming event ideas to coordinating logistics and marketing strategies. “We learn from the younger generation about new changes and innovative ideas that future generations will come to love.” Is just one of the many lessons I learned. 

My favorite event was our “Lunch Under the Sun” on the Courthouse Green. We partnered with a local Greek restaurant to market their incredible food and establishment. We gave away 100 free meals to the first 100 people to come. We offered plenty of publicity for the restaurant to grow in popularity. Sure enough, it was a great success! It was very rewarding to see the faces of people giving this restaurant a chance and the gratitude we got for helping a small business. 

Board Meetings: 

Attending board meetings for the MSBA was an eye-opening experience. These meetings provided a behind-the-scenes look at how decisions are made to benefit the community and local businesses. As an intern, I learned about Robert’s Rules of Order and got a more in-depth real-world experience on how significant members of the community have intricate discussions to help Main Street.  It allowed me to gain insights into the dynamics of nonprofit organizations. One of my responsibilities during board meetings was to take minutes. This task might seem mundane, and trust me I had done it before, but it was crucial for keeping an accurate record of discussions and decisions. It made me feel like a valued part of the team, trusted to document critical information.

Trend Report: 

In assisting with the Trend Report in a collaborative effort between John Peters and I, we discovered new insights in Downtown Hackensack. All derived from surveys conducted among Hackensack residents at the Public Library. The report offers valuable insights into the town’s demographics, popular hangouts by age groups, pet ownership trends, and community-backed business suggestions. It serves as a roadmap for businesses and local authorities to make informed decisions that will enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of our beloved community. I felt honored getting mentioned in the publication further underscoring the collaborative nature of this valuable community-driven project. 

A few smaller projects included coming up with the organizational aspect of the new website. Working tirelessly to input information into the website and creating a seamless and inviting layout throughout. Due to my proficiency in both Spanish and English, I also actively contributed to the creation and development of all Spanish-language marketing materials. These are just some of my roles at MSBA, although tedious they felt very rewarding to take charge of and I took pride in my contribution to the business.  

Overall, this summer internship at MSBA has been nothing short of transformational for me. I’ve learned not only about marketing but also about the power of community, collaboration, and dedication. Working alongside John Peters, I gained a mentor who not only guided me professionally but also instilled in me the importance of actively engaging with the community. I leave this summer with a greater understanding of real-world Marketing applications, the inner workings of a nonprofit organization, and a deep appreciation for the diverse and welcoming community of Hackensack. I have learned skills that will surely follow me in my future endeavors. 

I am grateful to Paige Soltano for connecting me with the MSBA and for my experience working alongside John Peters for Downtown Hackensack.

Volunteer at Holy Name Hospital

Image of Eisha, CCEEL

Eisha Iman, Biological Sciences, Pre-Med

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” – Martin Luther King

My dream to become a doctor has been a never-ending thought in my mind. Along with this thought always came a long list of questions beginning with how, what, when, where, or why. Being first generation always came with challenges, but I never let that get the best of me. I’ve always been someone who’s searched for opportunities and found ways to achieve my dreams. For wanting to become a doctor, I had already taken the first step to go to college, the second step was to gain clinical experience.

In search of clinical experience, I attended FDU’s annual career fair to learn about different opportunities available in my local area. During that event, I met my volunteer advisor, and that is where my journey of volunteering at Holy Name Medical Center began. I began training in February 2023 at Holy Name’s Volunteer courtesy desk, furthering on to the emergency department and a nurse’s station on the orthopedics floor. From the role of a volunteer, I see firsthand the professionals involved in taking care of a single patient to an entire floor of patients. My experience as a volunteer has also allowed me to further my skills and knowledge in medicine; learning to take vital signs, practicing my bedside manner, and staying aware of medical situations have become natural practices for me. Volunteering has also allowed me to build or strengthen my intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, such as self–discipline, communication, active listening, and teamwork. I feel that starting as a volunteer at Holy Name allowed me to build a more robust understanding of the medical field as I further my steps into my career.

My experience of staying involved in my community has allowed me to reflect upon the strength that holds a group of people together. For students, it’s often the support from their school that provides them guidance to pave their pathway for the future. Being a proud scholar of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (EOF), college programs that provide students with guidance for the future are essential in allowing successful graduates to have a brighter future for tomorrow. With guidance from my various advisors, including EOF, honors, and academic advising, FDU offers an excellent support system for student success. However, success only comes from being able to get the right opportunities. Being a sophomore at FDU has allowed me to see the opportunities available at my university globally and the local opportunities present right in FDU’s backyard. Fairleigh Dickinson’s hope to achieve more community engagement and provide academic opportunities for its students has the rise of the Center for Community Engagement & Experiential Learning (CCEEL). This organization will allow FDU students to be able to gain firsthand experience related to their degree and career right at home in New Jersey. This program seeks to build stronger relationships amongst Fairleigh students with staff and local community members to enforce their career skills from community-based engagement and learning. Learning about their field of choice will help them to build a stronger understanding of what the responsibilities and work ethic their career requires, allowing students to become continuous learners and responsible individuals in society.

I believe that the Center for Community Engagement & Experiential Learning (CCEEL) is a great opportunity for FDU students to not only further their knowledge but also to take the first steps that they would need to achieve their career goals. As Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” With the beginning of CCEEL, students will be able to pursue their careers confidently. I am grateful for the opportunities presented to me by both FDU and my community to advance my educational experience and I hope that more students can have the same support that I do.