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Massry Fellowships Help Students Give Back to the Community 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 12, 2019) – From giving children access to free books to learning about organic farming, five Massry Community Service Fellows spent the summer working to better the community..

The fellowship was founded through the Massry family’s 2014 $5.25 million gift to support the School of Business and key University-wide initiatives. Through the program, students arrange their own internships and apply for the fellowship, which pays the award at the end of the summer.

Since many internships at nonprofits are unpaid, the fellowship means that selected students can follow their passion for community work.

“The Massry family leads by example in community engagement,” said Martha Asselin, director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Service. “The Massry Community Service Fellows Program offers opportunities for UAlbany students to act as agents of change working collaboratively with our community to build upon assets that positively impact public and social good.”

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Three of this year's Massry Fellows — from left, Chanchilo Ezung, Grace Schlembach and Jeffrey Lorber — pose in the places they interned over the summer. (Photos and video by Paul Miller) 

Summer fellows were:

Nadine Al Annabi, a second semester freshman and international student from Jordan, interned with The RED Bookshelf.

“Through the Massry Community Service Fellows Program, I was able to give back to the community and help establish the goals set for The RED Bookshelf, which ensures that every child has access to free books and a good supply of books in their homes. I believe in the small acts of kindness that can transform other people’s lives and allow them to help other people in need in the future.”

During the previous summer, Al Annabi interned in a corporate commercial law firm in Jordan. She plans to major in political science and to become a lawyer, working in international law.

Chanchilo Ezung, MBA ’18, is a doctoral student from Kohima, Nagaland in India, whose research interest is in smart cities and information management. Ezung interned with FOCUS Churches of Albany.

“I wanted to work for the organization but I did need some support for the summer. So the fellowship helped me choose to work for the non-profit. I actually turned down a job because I wanted to work for the organization,” she said.

More than 800 people reported being homeless in Albany County in January, 2017, an increase of 7 percent from 2016. Ezung helped FOCUS Churches of Albany build their outreach through social media.

“I build relationships with the homeless by socializing with them during the breakfast program,” she said last month. “They have been very gracious and kind. I took the “Humans of New York” approach for collecting their stories and taking pictures.”

Jeffrey Lorber, a senior from Jericho, Long Island, interned with Capital Roots, which works to reduce the impact of poor nutrition by organizing community gardens and providing access to healthy food.

“I wouldn’t have been able to take this internship without the fellowship,” he said. “I have learned about organic farming processes from seeding to harvesting to composting. I have developed an appreciation for locally sourced produce and have been inspired to start my own garden plot!”

Lorber said he hopes to interact with as many community gardeners as possible. “I truly believe that the more people we can get involved in these types of programs, the stronger our communities will become as we work to confront the public health crises facing our country, seen in the rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases,” he said.

Grace Schlembach, a sophomore and accounting major, interned with the Schenectady Foundation. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas, before moving to Fairfax, Va., and finishing high school in Clifton Park. The foundation is dedicated to improving the well-being of Schenectadians.

“I have little experience in accounting, and this is my first exposure to real-world numbers and data outside my textbook. It’s a window into my future an opportunity to study up and make sure this is the path for me,” she said. “I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. To serve the people of Schenectady while gaining crucial job skills and meeting the leaders of our community is the perfect way to spend the summer.”

Had she not received the fellowship, Schlembach probably would have worked at a theater camp again as head set designer, as she did the previous year. At the foundation, she attended training on how to work with the impoverished. “It was incredible and broadened my perspectives, forcing me to reevaluate interactions and judgments I have made.”

Long-term, Schlembach plans to become a CPA, CFE and earn a master’s in forensic accounting. She’s interested in being trained as an expert witness, though she said she is open to other opportunities.

McHale Davis is a master’s degree student in Educational Psychology and Methodology who volunteered at the Alliance for Positive Health. The Alliance is dedicated to improving lives impacted by chronic diseases including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, mental illness and asthma.

Davis is a community-minded student from the Bahamas. He said he hoped to make a positive impact on the Alliance by providing strategies for black and Latino youth on how to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS, STIs, unplanned pregnancy and substance abuse.

Davis said the he was excited about the opportunity, and hoped “to gain experience in direct service, programming and administration.”

 

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