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Junior devotes time to helping others

David Byrnes has quietly set about helping other Binghamton students. As a Discovery assistant and High Hopes training coordinator, this junior devotes a big portion of every day to reaching out to other undergraduates.

“He’s reserved, but he brings a lot of reason and rationale when he does assert himself,” said Scott Bennett, coordinator of Discovery assistants. “He exudes openness and he’s a really active listener. He’s approachable and genuinely compassionate and empathetic.”

Byrnes, 20, grew up in Port Chester. He’s majoring in math, though he’s not sure yet what he’ll do in terms of a career.

Byrnes joined High Hopes, a crisis intervention and information hot line, when he was a sophomore. This year, he’s in charge of training other student volunteers to respond to callers’ concerns about sexuality, drugs and other topics.

“It’s just a way to help people,” Byrnes said. “You learn how to deal with a problem in a more helpful way.”

Byrnes is also the DA for a special floor in Mohawk Hall that’s devoted to fostering friendships among students of different nationalities. It’s about a third American, a third students from the Turkish dual-diploma program and a third other international students.

“I try to target the international students and make them feel more welcome,” Byrnes said. So far, the group’s biggest challenges have been homesickness and U.S. history, he said.

Byrnes takes an active interest in other cultures. He’s minoring in Italian, in part because his grandparents are from Italy.

“I love the language,” he said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Byrnes plans to study abroad in London next semester, so he’ll soon be leaving one international learning community for another.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08