Binghamton is changing. I have lived here for over twenty years, and it is different. It feels different. It was not that long ago when Gorgeous Washington Street was a little park with aging equipment and Twin River Commons was a really great late night burrito stand surrounded by dilapidated buildings. The City of Binghamton has been fortunate to be the beneficiary of a rebirth of community engagement. The burgeoning arts scene, an emerging market district, and a strong community focused campus in the heart of downtown Binghamton is engaging civic participation in new and exciting ways, changing the landscape for the better. This changing landscape affords us, as emerging practitioners, the potential to devise, develop, and implement programs and services that will connect the best and brightest of our community with areas of opportunity.
When recently introducing myself to a group of new colleagues, I referred to myself as “CCPA for Life.” Though meant to be a humorous ice breaker, there is a great truth in that statement. To study here goes beyond the idea of passively sitting in a classroom and producing work that is good enough to get by. At CCPA, the opportunities to contribute and see the development of an innovative initiative from its original concepts through the implementation and subsequent evaluation are unparalleled. One of the ways this is demonstrated is through my own work at CCPA, building upon my professional master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration and working within the context of community and public affairs. As a doctoral student, I am able to construct research projects and learning compacts that speak to dynamics in higher education within our regional community and beyond. This is my specific lens.
It is safe to say that right now I have a number of research interests, including the engagement and persistence of non-traditional students in our local area, as well as the study of the impact the newly opened residential living community will have on SUNY Broome and its related systems. I am passionate about this work because I believe that when you educate a single parent, you educate their family, too. The investment a parent makes in their education will be felt for generations and that has the potential to create a ripple of positive effects in our community, impacting our school districts and economic systems. I am living proof of this, and I know I am not alone. The addition of residential housing on our community college campus is an opportunity for student affairs divisions to become leaders on the SUNY Broome campus, and collaborate with faculty on new initiatives that foster the transition and growth of students, in addition to the institution. As more community colleges begin to adapt a residential focus, more research that begins to inform best practice programming is highly needed in this area.
I was recently honored with a commencement profile, which you can read here. One question that I was asked in that interview was “how do you do it?” At the time, I had a very superficial response, because time had not yet permitted me to take a step back and evaluate the journey. That is hard to do when you are in the thick of it and I, like so many in our community, spend most of my time in the thick of it. The simplest answer to that question would be “I just do. It is who I am.” In thinking about why I opted to pursue a PhD instead of going directly into the workforce, it is because I know I have more work to do- the kind of work that can impact current and future students in our area and elsewhere. As a PhD student in CCPA I have had opportunities to listen to faculty members discuss the directions of their current outreach, and ideas they have for the future, and I found myself thinking “how do they do it?” More specifically, how are they this motivated to produce work to impact the greater good? Why do they work within community systems, perform needs assessments, and develop programs to implement, with a constant eye on how to enhance the quality of our community? The simplest answer is they just do. It is who they are. As students, faculty, and community partners within the College of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University, it is who we are. We are ready to do the work that needs to be done because we know that this community has so much to offer.
We hope that you use this blog to follow all of the important and exciting research being done, and we invite you to envision the many different ways we can be partners. Any questions? Feel free to contact us. We look forward to creating a bright future together. For the greater good.
Stephanie Malmberg, Doctoral Student
College of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University