From Pace to Peralvillo: Rohana Sosa helps communities in the Dominican Republic

Seidenberg student Rohana Sosa (BS in Computer Science) recently participated in the Pace Setters Leadership Program on a non-profit advocacy project that took her to the Dominican Republic to assist vulnerable communities. Rohana’s work both here at Pace and within the community in Peralvillo, Domincan Republic, is both humbling and inspirational. Rohana sent us the following about her experiences – so read on!

Lifting up people is the world’s most beautiful gift. This January 2017, I had a rewarding learning experience assisting communities living in poverty in the Dominican Republic. Having this experience provided me with the knowledge to share with others how we can all be unified and bring peace to all.

As a computer science student at the Seidenberg School, I truly enjoy that being a humanitarian creates a balance between connecting the world through technology and actual in-person interaction to help heal others. Seeing smiles on the faces of people I worked with shows huge positive impact through being a donor of love. It was heartbreaking to see the struggle to simply survive, but inspiring to witness how unified the Dominican community truly is despite lifelong hardship.

My fellow volunteers and I were so happy to be blessed with sunshine the day we went to Peralvillo, Yamasá to bring healing, hope, and happiness to the poor in Dominican Republic through volunteering with the not-for-profit organization Juan Bautista Gautreaux Foundation.

The Juan Bautista Gautreaux Foundation was founded by my grandfather in February, 2000, to provide assistance and health for those most in need.

Since my freshman year at Pace University, I have been inspired and naturally driven to create a shared sense of belonging and purpose into building a resilient community in the Dominican Republic. There is a lot of potential in the long term for the Foundation to assist the growth of sustainable communities and help the most vulnerable develop their own abilities. Unfortunately, a lack of funding has prevented the Foundation from achieving its full effect. I aim to help revive it because striving for the well-being of the most vulnerable is worth it, especially for those who have special needs and who are elderly. As part of this, I chose to serve those in most need in DR as my Advocacy Project for graduating from the Pace Setters Leadership Program this May 2017.

The community needs an act of healing and renewal so I have taken the time to listen, connect, and support those in most need through service this January 2017. Having contributed more than 400 hours of community service throughout my academic years, my natural desire and motivation to serve has grown stronger with this project.

 

What Happened

Benefit Dinner Events & DR Mission Trip November 2016 & January 2017:

New York, Pace PLV Campus: The Benefit Dinner I hosted with my volunteers at the Kessel Multi-Purpose Room on November 13th, 2016, collected donations to bring relief to families in need in the Dominican Republic. Pace WPAW was the DJ of the event and there were four raffles as well. My mentor, Vincent Birkenmeyer (Vinnie), was a tremendous help for me to organize the event months in advance and I will always be grateful for his support. Vinnie and Pace Restaurant Sponsor with Pace Residence Life were able to provide the dinner. Donations of non-perishable food, toiletries, gently used clothing and shoes, as well as educational supplies for all ages, were accepted at this dinner and during tabling sessions (information sessions). Handcrafted accessories I crocheted were sold in exchange for donations. I made necklaces, scarves, headbands, and butterfly-bouquets. I created a website and sell these accessories to continue raising money to donate.

Hosting the event was one of the best short-term ways for me to help solve the large-scale problems and primary necessities faced by the most underprivileged which include: damaged housing that is not safe to live in, medications, sanitation units, fresh water, adequate living and academic supplies, and school support. After the event, we reached our goal of packaging six extra-large boxes to ship overseas to Dominican Republic.

Trip to Peralvillo, Yamasá – Dominican Republic:

While walking on mountainous trails to bring food for those families in most need, my volunteers and I witnessed extreme living conditions, which include broken down outhouses made out of rags and twigs. We personally brought food packages to twelve different homes of elderly people and learned about their needs. The team and I visited the sick, blind, and injured. Many homes had no lighting and water for their homes. We met one elderly woman in her eighties who was missing a leg. Sadly, this elderly woman passed away in February 2017. Other people were suffering from osteoporosis, asthma, and depression. A bedridden and sickly man, father of two elderly sickly siblings, about 101 years old, smiled at us because he was so excited to have visitors stop by his room, a dark shack with sand and dirt for floors and dogs roaming around. His daughter was in tears because she was so happy that we came to bring her food.

Back on the site of my grandfather’s foundation, there were approximately 100 people from the community in need who showed up to receive donations. The team and I helped kids make Vision Boards so they can draw what they want to aspire when they grow up. We made sandwiches to feed everyone and gave out juice, distributed the donated clothes and toothpaste with toothbrushes. I taught young girls how to crochet as well so they can continue to build that skill to help their families. School bags with supplies were given to kids too. There was so much excitement and joy at this moment. Everyone who received their donation was so grateful to us and showed their gratitude with lots of hugs and smiles. It was incredible to see the huge positive impact we all created with combined efforts from NY and DR.

Poverty can be greatly reduced when people create dreams to strive for. My hope is that with this volunteer experience is that we helped developed courage, strength, and creativity in the lives of those in need so they can develop a better overall quality of life.

The experience was made possible thanks to my grandfather, Dalio Gautreaux (president of the Juan Bautista Gautreaux Foundation); my mother who is always there with me every step of the way, especially with this project; my father in heaven who inspires me everyday to achieve goals; my mentor, Vincent Birkenmeyer; family and friends; volunteers in NY and DR; Seidenberg School of CSIS and Pace University faculty and staff; and the Pace Setters Leadership Program for giving me this opportunity to make an impact on a global scale.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Rohana!

Check Rohana’s website if you’re interested in buying handmade accessories to support communities in the Dominican Republic

You can also connect with Rohana on LinkedIn and read her blog, Tech Bytes for Women.

Seidenberg breakfast club enjoys #tacotuesday

It takes a lot to get some students out of bed early on a Tuesday morning, but the thought of hot breakfast tacos enticed people to leave their warm cocoons and join us for coffee and conversation over a hearty plate of food!

The Seidenberg Breakfast takes place every other Tuesday and offers a theme both in terms of cuisine and conversation topic. Each breakfast has a host who briefly discusses the topic (just for a minute or two!) while everyone enjoys the delicious fare. And at only $2 for all the food and coffee you can consume, it’s a pretty good deal!

Today’s theme was Seidenberg International, and the host was our very own Dean, Dr. Jonathan Hill.

“We are a very international school,” Dr. Hill said. “It’s important that all of us let our international colleagues and friends know that we love them and that we want them here and that we need them very, very much. The point of these [breakfasts] is to foster a greater sense of community. Our strength as a school is that community, and the heart of that strength is the fact that we are such an international place.”

We certainly are – many of our students, faculty, and staff hail from outside of the USA. The chance to learn from other cultures and viewpoints is one we hold dear to our community.

Dr. Hill preps breakfast early Tuesday morning

Beginning at 8:30 and (of course) running past its end time of 10am, the breakfast was overseen by Chef Olga Bogomolova, who ensured the cheese was adequately melted to perfection. Thanks to Olga and student Niamh Fitzsimon for organizing everything!

All are welcome at Seidenberg Breakfast, including students at other Pace colleges, staff and faculty, alumni, and friends and colleagues in the area! We are big on community and always happy to meet new friends. Keep an eye on our calendar for the next event!

The Counselor Is In!

Starting today the Seidenberg school has our very own Career Counselor. Here is a note from our newest member of the Seidenberg Community.

Happy summer, Seidenbergers!

My name is Ani Lucia, and I am Seidenberg’s shiny new career-counselor-in-residence. I’ll be hanging out with you guys in 163 William a couple times a week to help you with all your career needs – from internship opportunities, resumes, and interview practice, to “Who am I and what the <bleep> do I do with my life?!”

If you haven’t found a summer internship yet, there still are a ton of opportunities available. Shoot me an e-mail (alucia@pace.edu) telling me what type of internship you’re looking for, and I can help connect you with employers.

Starting in the fall, I’ll be giving workshops from time to time that are tailor made to you guys’ and gals’ career interests and needs, so if you have any ideas or topics that you’d like covered, let me know.

Your trusty staff and I are in the process of planning an awesome Welcome Week event, so keep an eye out later in the summer for more news about that!

If you have any questions, need help with anything, or just want to say hi, e-mail me or stop by 163 William between 2pm and 5pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. I’m really looking forward to getting to know you guys!

 

Andrea “Ani” Lucia, M.S.|Career Counselor|Pace University Career Services|alucia@pace.edu|(212)346-1950