Shining STARS recognized for volunteerism

University students are busy with school, work, sports, family, friends and more – it’s hard to find room to fit anything else in. But for many students in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, volunteering has become an integral part of their university experience. From peer mentoring and student ambassadorship to helping out at orientation and recruitment events, students are building their networks and gaining valuable transferable skills to boost their resumés. 

On April 1, the Student & Alumni Relations (STARS) Unit honoured the dedication and hundreds of volunteer hours of students, alumni, faculty and staff at York during the Shining STARS Volunteer Recognition Celebration. In particular, they formally celebrated the achievements of five outstanding undergraduate students who have helped make this year’s Atkinson programs and events a success.

School of Public Policy & Administration student Ivan Katsevman was honoured for his involvement with the Students Helping Atkinson Rookies Excel (SHARE) Peer Mentorship program and his engagement as a student ambassador for the Team of Enthusiastic Atkinson Ambassadors (TEAM). He’s active in a number of clubs and organizations, including the International Students Association at York and the Public Policy & Administration Students Association. Katsevman participated in the Leadership Retreat Conference during February’s Reading Week and the Toronto Global Leaders Conference in March.

Right: Ivan Katsevman shows off his awards

When she’s not volunteering in her own community, administrative studies student Rabya Imtiaz is busy helping organize various Atkinson events or giving new students the “inside scoop” on life at York through the SHARE Peer Mentorship program. Imtiaz recently formed the new student club  Students Thrilled About Twisted Statistics (STATS), and represented York at the World Model United Nations Competition. “Many of us don’t give volunteering the value and importance it deserves,” she noted in a message to students this year. “However, it is volunteering that has given me the experience, confidence and ability to forge my aspirations.”

Accounting student Marisa Cugliari is currently president of the Atkinson Professional Accounting Association (APAA). She received their Award of Excellence in 2006-2007 and played an integral part in organizing their new APAA Awards Ceremony. This year, Cugliari put together the first Internal Accounting Case Competition at York.

Left: From left, Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton, Atkinson Associate Dean Martha Rogers and honoree Marisa Cugliari

For business economics student Arijit Bhattacharya, volunteering has been a way to make his mark. Bhattacharya was recognized for his participation in the SHARE Peer Mentorship program, and for his participation in a number of Atkinson celebrations, orientations, special events and workshops. “Volunteering has honed my social and networking skills and helped me develop some invaluable leadership qualities which I can take with me in my career,” he said. “I am very grateful to be awarded with this great distinction.”

This summer the Business Network at York will launch their official Web site, designed by BAS marketing student and entrepreneur Ryan Pacht. The club was founded by Pacht, who is currently president. Pacht has also been president of the Administrative Studies Business Association and is currently VP external for the American Marketing Association at York. He has been a peer mentor and a panellist at various recruitment and conversion events.

Right: Cugliari with Ryan Pacht

If you ask most Atkinson students, including these five, why they volunteer, their answers are similar: they want to "give back" to the community. A few highlights from this year include:

  • The SHARE Peer Mentorship program experienced a 12 per cent participation increase over last year – matching 737 students.
  • Several new community-university initiatives were created, including volunteer “Days of Caring” that helped support FoodShare, a non-profit agency working to improve access to affordable and healthy food.
  • The Student-Alumni Mentorship program hit its fifth year – in total matching 432 students with alumni mentors.

“Many of our programs are made possible thanks to the hard work, creativity and commitment of students,” said Atkinson Associate Dean Martha Rogers. “They’re making a significant impact on student life at York and Atkinson. Their dedication, energy and ideas are truly inspiring.”

For more information on the Shining STARS event or volunteer opportunities at Atkinson, contact the STARS Unit at ext. 33572.