Sahar Rajput is a senior, majoring in Communication & Social Interaction and minoring in Psychology and Business Administration. Sahar has demonstrated a deep commitment to civic and community engagement throughout her life. Sahar became involved in community engagement as soon as she arrived at SUNY Oswego as a mentor and tutor in the Mentor Oswego Program. Her engagement grew deeper and through her leadership and vision she was instrumental in developing multiple new community partnerships. She identified unmet needs in the community and took the initiative to create innovative solutions. The partnerships have created a platform for connecting hundreds of SUNY Oswego students with the community each week to address the needs of low-income youth and people with disabilities. Sahar has worked tirelessly to develop programs that promote community engagement and provide meaningful opportunities for her peers to get involved in building the capacity of community-based organizations.
In high school I worked with the ARC in my hometown, Scotia, NY. Through ARC, I visited people with disabilities in their homes to provide activities and programs throughout the year. Through this experience, I became aware of the impact that negative stereotypes have on people with disabilities and conversely the positive impact educational programs have. I realized later throughout my college career that this is not just in my hometown; it is everywhere. Working in the Community Services Office, I had the opportunity to work with programs that connect with seniors and youth but realized there was a gap in partnering with organizations that serve people with disabilities. I worked with the ARC of Oswego County to create a partnership in which SUNY Oswego students connect with community members with disabilities through educational and social-skills programming. We have hosted weekly programs on campus such as a visit to Rice Creek Field Station to learn about the wildlife, a show at the planetarium to learn about the planets, and arts programs. After launching a successful, sustainable partnership the first year we decided to expand the program the following year. I am excited that the program will continue after I graduate.