Community service was an important part of Kenneth Roman’s life before he even decided on a college destination. That service has grown since attending Binghamton University.
“I would still have the volunteer spirit if I had gone to Elmira College,” the 21-year-old junior history and English major from Endicott said. “But I feel more responsible because I stayed here. This is my home and this is where I live. Binghamton offers ways to volunteer, so I feel I should give back during the free time I have.”
Roman organizes teen programs at George F. Johnson Memorial Library in Endicott and serves as secretary of the West Endicott Fire Department. Those are just two of the jobs that helped Roman become a 2012 Binghamton University Forum scholarship recipient.
“I don’t do volunteer work to be noticed, but it was nice to be recognized for the hard work that I do,” said Roman, who attended the Forum’s end-of-the-year gala with his mother.
Roman started helping the George F. Johnson Memorial Library as a high school freshman, shelving books and running errands for librarians. He stayed at the library during his college years and earned more responsibilities, such as organizing craft projects for children.
His latest library program is a book club for teens. In the club, teens 12-16 read books, then watched movies based on them – think “The Hunger Games” or “Holes” – and discussed the differences.
“It’s rewarding when they connect with a book or find something in their lives that matches with the book and we can have a good discussion about it,” said Roman, who puts in about 15 hours a week at library while taking classes.
Roman started as a social member at the West Endicott Fire Department, helping the group to raise money while being near his father, a volunteer firefighter. Like his work at the library, Roman took on more responsibility with age.
“I wanted to be part of the fire department, but I didn’t really want to go into fires and fight them!” he said.
At Binghamton University, Roman is on the Community Engagement Team for President Harvey Stenger’s Road Map project. He is part of the Sigma Alpha Lambda volunteer fraternity, takes part in events such as Boo at the Zoo and helped raise flood-relief funds last fall. Roman also organized a St. Jude’s benefit walk in June 2012.
Roman knew while in high school that he wanted to major in history. He narrowed his college choices down to Binghamton University and Elmira College. The decision to attend Binghamton was based on a desire to learn from one of the University’s longest-serving professors: Gerald Kadish.
“He has a vast knowledge,” Roman said. “I like how he brings out a lot of sources that help with the history he is teaching. He also allows you to make your own conclusions about the history of that time.”
Kadish said that he was not aware of the role he played in Roman’s decision.
“He’s a very bright, quiet kid,” Kadish said. “He’s taken a number of my classes.”
Roman’s short-term goals are to study for a semester in London and “stay near or on the dean’s list.” He hopes to attend graduate school in Albany and Syracuse and then become a librarian.
“I’m happy I chose Binghamton,” he said. “I enjoy the atmosphere and the professors. I was nervous about big classrooms, but I learned immediately that you forget about the other 300 people as long as you get yourself known with the professor. Even if you are in a class with hundreds, you can feel like you are in a class with 10, depending on how many others want to be noticed and have a say in the class.”