East Hill Notes: Power of POST for students, community


Cornell University’s annual student-led Pre-Orientation Service Trips (POST) program is being staged around Tompkins County this week. This fabulous rite of August is managed by Cornell’s Public Service Center, with incoming first-year students arriving in town a week early to work on community service projects while building new friendships and networks.

They are mentored, in part, by sophomore, junior and senior leaders who previously participated in POST. Representative projects in 2019 include visiting with residents at nursing homes, working in community gardens, K-12 and STEM activities with local youth, sustainability projects and helping to prepare area schools for opening, including at Boynton Middle School, where students are housed during the week.

A common question these “POSTers” will hear from community members in the coming days: “Why sacrifice your last days at home to come to Ithaca/Cornell early and work?”

Some representative responses:

Yasmin Ballew, Manteca, California: “I have always been service oriented and look forward to a similar experience. I also believe this will be a wonderful opportunity for me to make friends and a support group of like-minded students. Finally, I hope to get a better feel for Ithaca and all it has to offer.”

Aidan Zamorksi, Niagara Falls, New York: “A large part of my high school experience was centered around service experiences. I have rebuilt computers (and trained others) for a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving underprivileged children and worked in local missions and on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. What I valued most about these experiences was the unique perspective and culture of everyone I’ve met. POST appeals to me because I can continue giving to others by serving in the Ithaca community.”

Alynna Sanchez, West Orange, New Jersey: “Giving back to my community has been a big part of my life. As long as I’m helping someone reach their goal, or positively impacting others, I’m eager to participate. The POST program will give me an opportunity to continue that spirit of service in college. I can’t imagine a better way to start the school year than spending a week giving back to the Ithaca community with a group of diverse students who are passionate about community service.”

Hailey Nelson, Pelham, New York: “Despite the fact that I’ve spent the past three years visiting my brother at Cornell, I don’t know much about Ithaca and the community. I want to participate in a program that would allow me to explore Ithaca and do community service. I had previously reached out to a ‘Hotelie’ at Cornell Days who was a member of POST. She explained that it’s exactly what I wanted from a pre-orientation program, i.e., a way to serve, make new friends and have fun!”

Kristina Im, Palo Alto, California: “Looking back at my high school years, what has impacted me most is time spent serving in my community. I have learned how important it is to focus on helping others, and have come to realize that I would like to pursue a service-centered career. At Cornell, I am looking to continue volunteering in the community, and believe POST is a great way to start. I am excited to meet like-minded individuals and learn more about the City of Ithaca.”

As always, Cornell University’s Office of Community Relations is grateful to the thousands of Cornell students, of every age and background, who contribute so much to the quality of life and shared interests in Tompkins County.

One can’t put a price on their selfless work and sense of place, but in short, thank you students, from POSTers to post-docs, for your community spirit and commitment.

East Hill Notes are published the first and third Wednesdays of each month in Tompkins Weekly. Gary Stewart is assistant vice president of Cornell Community Relations


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