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Four York College of PA students named University Innovation Fellows by Stanford d.school

November 14, 2023
University Innovation Renews

Four York College of Pennsylvania students have completed training to join the University Innovation Fellows, a global program that empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with design, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. All four are also Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows.

The University Innovation Fellows program, run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school), empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. Fellows work to ensure that all students gain the attitudes, skills, and knowledge required to navigate a complex world and build the future.

Dr. Dominic DelliCarpini, Dean of York College’s Center for Community Engagement and Director of the Graham Fellows program, noted that “in becoming part of this program, these students are representing some of the things that are best about York College—students’ engagement with the campus, local community, and global community, as well as an understanding of students’ role in learning by doing.”

University Innovation Fellows create opportunities to help their peers build the creative confidence, agency, and entrepreneurial mindset needed to address global challenges. Fellows create student innovation spaces, start entrepreneurship organizations, facilitate experiential workshops, work with faculty and administrators to develop new courses, and much more. They serve as advocates for lasting institutional change with academic leaders, lending the much-needed student voice to the conversations about the future of higher education.

Below is the 2023 cohort from York College and a description of proposed projects that benefit their peers. They will continue to explore how they might be brought to life in the coming years:

Reilly Deckert, a sophomore Biology major from Littlestown – Community Garden

The YCP Community Garden will allow space for students to connect with nature in a meaningful way. Students can do as they please in this space: relax, learn, etc. Nurturing flowers and vegetables can be a rewarding and meditative experience for students; doing something tactile can help calm the mind, especially when there is a tangible result from the activity. Workshops taught by outside organizations and faculty alike as well as campus events could be held in this space. We hope to make many small gardens across campus so that more students have access to them. We can imagine scheduled maintenance days led by students and carried out by students. Lastly, a garden on campus could also help provide nutrient-rich vegetables to food-insecure students at the Spartan Pantry.

Noah Eberly, sophomore Nursing major from Dallastown - First Friday Biking Event

First Friday is a local community event in York hosted on the first Friday of each month. It is a celebration within York City that involves the community and local businesses as citizens are encouraged to interact with stores, restaurants, and the Central Market. Allowing students an easy option to interact with this event could help connect them with the greater community surrounding the College and introduce them to local businesses and vendors, making them a part of the local economy. Using bikes to transport students into the city can also provide students with a relaxed method of exercise that doesn't come with the same pressures as a gym environment but still provides the mental and physical health benefits.

Jacob Wingard, junior Biology major from York - Community Mental Health Support Group

The Community Mental Health Support Group is a student-led, therapist-monitored support group that aims to help students struggling with mental health issues learn coping techniques. Trying to make healthy habits to promote and maintain mental health is hard; doing this while dealing with mental health issues is even harder. This mental health support group is meant to help students practice, learn, and deal with issues related to their journey of health. Students will be led by other student leaders who have dealt with these issues, who are further on their journey of health, and who are trained by a licensed therapy to support other students

Branden Goromaru, senior Mechanical Engineering major from Mountville – Community Green Space

The YCP Community Green Space provides a plethora of students a way to disengage from the stressful academic life and confines of their dorm or classrooms and rejoin nature. This green space, including a community garden, pollinator garden, fruit-bearing trees, and seating space, would provide a place where students can relax, learn, and interact with one another in order to form a community and to promote sustainability goals. This garden can also help provide food for food-insecure members on campus as well as provide good points of contact to collaborate with other institutions and the local community in York. Classes and faculty would also be able to utilize such a space to help teach others about plants and horticulture as well as providing a space to learn about sustainability.

“Higher education institutions around the world need student leaders to be involved in shaping the experience of teaching and learning,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “Students can provide an essential perspective on what learners need to succeed and thrive in the world today, and students can take the lead on making the necessary changes happen at their schools.”

“The new Fellows are designing experiences that help all students learn skills and mindsets necessary to navigate these uncertain times and to shape the future they want to see,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “They are giving back to their school communities, and at the same time, they’re learning strategies around design, creativity and leadership that will help them in their careers.”