Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

Student Profile: Lauren Rossi

Lauren Rossi smallLauren Rossi is a Manhattanville College senior majoring in psychology with a minor in history. She is one of the student coordinators of Creative Expressions Through Art, a Duchesne Center for religion and social justice program, which brings elementary school kids from the WestHab organization to campus for arts and crafts.

Manhattanville College has worked with WestHab for the past ten years. More than 100 Manhattanville students work with the Westhab youth each year as mentors, tutors, and club leaders.

Lauren intends to study education in graduate school.

In this brief Q&A, Lauren discusses her involvement with Creative Expressions Through Art and community service.

What is your role with Creative Expressions Through the Arts?

I am the student coordinator for Creative Expressions Through the Arts. We work with WestHab and the students come to campus. They are elementary school kids and we do arts and crafts projects with them. I have been doing it for five semesters and in the past we have focused on cultural crafts so we would look at the cultures of different countries and students would do a project related to that culture. This year we were looking at a teacher's calendar. For example, if one month was dinosaur month, we talked to them about dinosaurs and they did a project about that.

How did you become involved with this organization?

I transferred here (Manhattanville) when I was a sophomore, so that first semester I was originally just a student volunteer and there were a couple of seniors involved and they needed a replacement. I worked with one of the other juniors, and that is how I started out, but I have always loved working with kids so this is a program that I liked.

What did you bring to the program?

The previous student coordinators focus a lot on art history and I am not an art history major so I am coming from the education aspect of teaching them something.

How do you approach this then from the education perspective?

One week it was elephant appreciation week so I brought in a picture book that talked about elephants and how they survive in the wild. There were crafts online and the kids created models of elephants from paper. I take the ideas from crafts so I have them do things like coloring. There is a coloring page on dinosaurs, and rather than have them just color it, I had them cut two out and staple them together.

How receptive are the kids to the program?

They like it. Sometimes they want more advanced crafts which is difficult to do cause I am a full-time student. It's balancing everything. This semester we had a special opportunity to work with the Museum Education class. One of the girls in that class and I were able to combine efforts and go to the Berger Gallery and have the students look at the "How Will They Know Us?" exhibit. Kids from Iraqi and America teamed up to create murals. The students really liked it.

Are there a lot of Manhattanville students that are involved in this activity?

Bianca Genovese is a student coordinator with me. We get about ten to twelve different student volunteers each week.

Are you involved in any other activities at Manhattanville?

In regards to Duchesne Center, I have gone to different lectures and one of things they are talking about this year is cultural insensitivity so I have gotten involved with that. I have done the children's hospital in the past. I am a fourth grade religious education teacher outside of school. I am also a supplemental instructor (SI) for two classes and a math tutor.

Do you think this experience is going to help you in your studies?

It definitely does. I am a psychology major, I am not so much in the classrooms right now, but what I get to do is I get to think about how am I going to make learning fun for the students and how am I going to make it a hands-on experience. What you learn is sometimes they give you feedback, the kids, but it may not be as specific as an adult. It is just learning that this student is capable of this type of work, it is finding that balance and also having alternative activities like we have had. I print out word searches, reading activities also to cater to the age ranges; it's flexibility.

When you transferred here, was community service something you knew you wanted to do?

I have always loved working with others within my community and helping others, which is why I wanted to get into teaching. I started volunteering at different pre-schools when I was in middle school and I just continued it. I love that we actually have a center (at Manhattanville). At this school it (community service) is a beautiful experience. The students love what they do and want to be there.

If you know you want to be a teacher, why did you decide to major in psychology?

I wanted the developmental aspect. Just thinking about kids developmentally is really important. Psychology has also been a second career choice that I have had in mind.