Last week at Villa Maria, a cohort of senior students completed a major curriculum requirement – Core Curriculum Senior Seminar, or COR-401.
COR-401 is an interdisciplinary course that integrates the skills and knowledge students have learned in both their liberal arts courses and their major program courses. Students collaborate on a ten-week-long project that relates to the College’s core value for the respective year. The core value for the 2022-2023 academic year is compassion.
“At Villa Maria, COR-401 is our way of making the college experience as active and as real world as possible,” said Dr. Matthew Giordano, the College’s president. “Students work in groups and are paired with local non-profits. They work with the non-profits’ leaders; the people who saw a need in the community and decided to do something about it. They learn about their needs and challenges, and they help the non-profit overcome its challenges. They’re not just giving ideas; they’re doing tangible work that makes a difference.”
“The COR 401 capstone course is the culminating activity of our four-year general education curriculum at Villa Maria College,” said Dr. Ryan Hartnett, Villa’s provost. “We are honored to partner with so many hard-working non-profits, true change-agents from across the city of Buffalo. The agencies our students work with serve the most vulnerable in our community, and our students gain valuable insight, skills and mission-driven experience.”
After a semester’s worth of work, students presented their projects to the non-profits, other community partners, and a slew of Villa faculty and staff. Their presentations introduced the non-profit with which they worked, explained some of their challenges, and showcased the strategies and tactics they devised to help the non-profits overcome their hardships.
Mia Ayers, the executive director of Most Valuable Parents of Buffalo, worked with Shalayah Smith, Yasmin Johnson, and Xzavyer Barker. “It was a great experience, and I was honored to work with them,” said Ayers. “We met on a few different occasions for them to learn more about MVP and to discuss our needs.
Ms. Ayers of MVP of Buffalo with Xzavyer Barker, Yasmin Johnson, and Shalayah Smith
Smith, Johnson, and Barker worked with Ayers to put together a video about MVP and the impact it has had on parents and caregivers in Buffalo. “It is important for people to understand our work so that they can take advantage of our services or to help us and volunteer. This video will be used for a long time and in many ways,” said Ayers. “I plan on making the video part of our new member orientation and it will be a huge part of our recruitment campaign.”
Overall, Ayers says she was pleased with the quality of work she received. “I was very impressed with the quality of work,” she continued. “I want to hire these students to do more, and I would love to take on an intern for an entire semester.”
“COR-401 is about graduating students out of Villa and into the world,” said Dr. Giordano. “It’s very different than what they do in most of their other courses. What’s most important for us as an institution is that graduates understand the community in which they are living and working and are active participants.”
“COR-401 gives seniors the opportunity to truly understand what’s going on around them. To understand the issues that are deeply embedded into our community, the challenges people face, the experiences other people in our community have, and all the great work that’s going on around us,” continued Dr. Giordano.
“We need our students to understand that we’re all connected here in Western New York,” concluded Dr. Giordano. “What happens in every area of our community impacts all of us and, if you’re really going to create change you need to put aside all the reasons why you can’t do something and get your hands dirty.”
The Full Line-Up of Presentations:
Delavan-Grider Community Center
Alyssa LaMartina, Kelsey Sikora, Alexis Sevrey
To Our Legacies and Legends
Brianna Scutt, Joseph Meaney, Vega
Most Valuable Parents of Buffalo
Shalayah Smith, Yasmin Johnson, Xzavyer Barker
The Exchange at Beverly Gray Center
Caitlin Jarosinski, Matalin Barone, and Meaghan Lopez
Gianluca Ndukanma, Michael Scrivens, and Alexis Colson
King Urban Life Center
Dane Weisbeck, Brandon Page, and Clayton Enfield
Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals
Cameron Cook, Jakob Weigand and Kade Streak
Amber, Hannah Day, and Lindsey Buchholz
Kyra Cannon, Jamika Ervin, and Sereena Mistiva-Santos
The Exchange at Buffalo Gray Center
Aurora Mills, Carson Schmitt, Noah Tysiac and Timothy Clavier
Kelsey Sikora, Alyssa LaMartina, and Alexis Sevrey presented on the Delavan Grider Community Center.