New FSE Coordinators Ready to Lead
The Freshmen Service Experience, one of AU’s finest and longest-running traditions, has a new team of student coordinators taking charge. During the summer, the group of five will plan the three-day, two-night event through which some 600 incoming freshmen will take part in service across DC.
Meg Rego, program coordinator for community-based learning, will be the Center for Community Engagement & Service’s first full-time staff member dedicated entirely to overseeing FSE and the coordinators, who are a select group of five, with four new coordinators chosen this year from an application pool of 40.
“It’s a diverse pool in background and experience in what they’re bringing to the table,” she says of the team members – Thomas Cheng, Mary May Kozlik, Diana Williams, and Alex Karmazin, alongside returning coordinator Cindy Zavala. “They have a great spirit for service [and] are dedicated to making it a wonderful experience for incoming freshmen. They’re going to enjoy bringing the community together – the AU community and then the wider DC community through the experience.”
For Kozlik, a sophomore business and premed double major, becoming a coordinator has been a goal since her first days at AU, when she took part in FSE as an incoming student.
“When I was a freshman, I saw the FSE coordinators up there at the opening ceremonies, and I thought ‘I want to be up there. I want to build up to this,’” she says. “That’s why I became an FSE leader last year.”
Now, along the group of five, Kozlik will oversee about 100 FSE leaders – the upperclassmen who will direct freshmen at each site.
Diana Williams, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Public Health program, was required to take part in FSE as a member of AU’s University College. In the end, the experience provided the type of direction she needed as a new student.
“I really appreciated it because it confirmed my passion for public health,” she says of her two days volunteering and learning about HIV/AIDS issues in the District. “Because of that confirmation I received, I hope that other freshmen would be able to volunteer at a site where they could say, ‘Wow this is really what I want to do.’”
As someone who also wants to use her AU education to improve the community, Kozlik sees benefits in FSE beyond the introduction to AU, DC, and new fellow classmates.
“The opportunity to work with so many non-profits in the area is awesome,” Kozlik says. “The ability to get to know the types of problems DC is facing and what types of help different organizations need are things I’m personally interested in.”
Through the university’s Community-Service Learning Program, she has volunteered with a nonprofit organization providing resources to families dealing with domestic and gang violence.
Alex Karmazin, a sophomore and productions director in AU’s student-run television studio ATV, first became interested in the idea of coordinating FSE when he produced a promotional video for the university’s literacy engagement program, DC Reads. The volunteer efforts he saw when filming inspired him to take part in the massive coordination effort that is FSE.
“Working on a team with people my age and tackling something real, a big project – it’s a huge endeavor,” he says. “I love the idea of just spending a summer together as a team, chipping away at it and doing whatever it needs to get it done.”
Williams draws inspiration from her own experiences working with the Women’s Collective last year on health care issues and volunteering with her mother at a local food bank back home in New Jersey. She lauds AU for its commitment to promoting service through FSE.
“It promotes well-rounded students,” she says. “You can’t better yourself without bettering your community. You can’t be on top of the world and keep other people down. You have to help them help themselves.”
Kozlik echoes her, citing the university’s history of service and its recognition as a leader in the field.
“AU was founded on civic responsibility that it wanted instilled in students from the very beginning. I think FSE is a prime example of how we’ve built that in,” she says. “Based on statistics, AU has one of the highest percentages of students that go on to service in the Peace Corps.”
From their varied backgrounds and interests, these new coordinators will bring their different perspectives to the task of organizing everything from work site recruitment and evening programming to press core leadership and budget management.
Like the other team members approaching the summer and the start of FSE planning, Karmazin is more than anxious to get working. He seems to speak for the rest of the diverse, talented group, saying, “There’s a lot of good to be done here. I’m really excited. June fourth is when we start, and it can’t come soon enough.”