Aug. 17, 2017
By Cristina Quinn
Throughout his undergraduate career, Adam Centeno '17 made an impact on several local school districts through his involvement with Promise Zone, a national program that focuses on improving four crucial elements of student success: attendance, family engagement, connections to resources and academics. The Broome County Promise Zone, based at the Binghamton University Downtown Center (UDC), is the first and only county-wide, university-assisted community school model within the national organization. Those who volunteer or intern can choose to work directly with students or help with more administrative work under the supervision of a graduate assistant. The Center for Civic Engagement is a Promise Zone partner, coordinating internships and volunteer opportunities for Binghamton University students in local schools.
Adam received a wide array of experiences through his time with Promise Zone, completing two internships and volunteering over the summer at the organization's Summer Zone camps. "My time with Promise Zone has been amazing," he says. "Although I started my internship experience at the main office in the UDC, I eventually decided that I wanted more experience actually working with the students we help serve, and this lead me to my internship at Whitney Point High School. During my time at Whitney Point, I conducted a needs assessment in the form of focus group questions to gauge the needs of both the students and the Whitney Point community. At the beginning of the spring semester, I presented my research to Promise Zone staff and administrators."
Adam says his favorite part of his most recent internship was seeing the growth of Promise Zone at the high school and seeing how the program has a direct and positive impact on the students. "I looked forward to spending time with [the students] and learning what I can do to support their academic and emotional needs. I think it is safe to say that I learned more from them than they did from me!"
Adam also attributes his sense of belonging and investment in the greater Binghamton community to his time working through the Promise Zone. "My internship[s] allowed me to see Broome County as a whole, from a different perspective. I [learned] more about the needs of the students and the community while being able to provide support to help students succeed." This context will also help Adam serve as a representative for the newly formed Broome County Student Board of Advisors, a group of dedicated students who will work to help make Broome County a place where young people want to live and work.
His advice to Binghamton University students looking for a meaningful internship or volunteer experience is this: "Interning with Promise Zone is an amazing opportunity and it allows you to work with students and administrators from a variety of backgrounds. If you are looking for an internship that helps you grow as a person as well as helping students succeed, Promise Zone is definitely the place for you!"
Volunteer: Students who are interested in volunteering or interning in local schools can find more information on the CCE's Community Schools website.