Siena Students Assist During Break

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LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. – Twenty Siena College students and their advisor, Edward LaRow, plan to travel to Mississippi March 11-18, where they’ll spend spring break assisting at a distribution center and helping with general debris cleanup in Biloxi, one of the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The students are members of the Siena College/Albany Medical College Program in Science, Humanities and Medicine, a unique eight-year continuum of medical education.

Students’ eyes are opened by direct service, explains LaRow, a biology professor who developed the Siena College/Albany Medical College program 20 years ago with Siena alumnus James Barba, CEO of Albany Medical Center.

There are three levels of volunteerism expected from program participants: individual, class, and program-wide activities.

Continuation in the program requires not only maintaining a certain GPA, LaRow said, but activities in keeping with the philosophy of the program. Each class commits to a year-long project, and nearly every student is involved in both individual projects and the Student Leadership Team.

Last summer, Siena pre-med students were in rural Kenya, Mexico, Ecuador and Thailand, the latter after the tsunami (and before Hurricane Katrina made waves in the U.S.).

Kevin Mackin noted that Siena students raised more than $8,000 last fall to benefit Katrina survivors. The college’s Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King Lecture committee also made a donation.

“I think our students engaging in service trips is another great example of leadership,” Kevin said.

Service trips during break are a tradition at the Franciscan Catholic college. Also this March, Dennis Tamburellowill accompany a group of students to St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia for a week, and Kevin Daly will drive students to a Habitat for Humanity project in Virginia.