Connective Corridor

Community Spotlight: The Connective Corridor is Not “Just a Bus”

By Francesca Merwin

That’s me!

The Connective Corridor is just a bus. Students, I’m talking to you. I’m sure you’ve heard that line before. But if it’s not a bus, then what the heck is it? Take a look on University Avenue and you might say it’s a pain of a construction project. You might say it’s a SU… “thing.”  But it’s none of those things – and it’s more. It’s civic engagement.  It’s cultural development.  It’s a pure form of Scholarship in Action.

There’s the other money phrase. Scholarship in Action. I’m sure that’s one you’ve heard a million times before too. If you’re anything like I was a year ago, then you probably don’t understand it and don’t understand how it can relate to you. And that’s fine. I’m here to help explain it.

You see, I’m an Engagement Fellow. I work in the Connective Corridor’s office as half student/half professional. I was one of those people who didn’t really believe or care to understand Scholarship in Action until I got this fellowship. I loved doing community service, but I didn’t see any sort of connection with my professional life. Luckily, I found this job, I got to work in this office and see that Scholarship in Action is a real thing, and students engage in it every single day.

Every time I step foot in my office, I hear about another group of students working with another Corridor project. These students are gaining real-life skills while transforming a community. They’re a part of an up and coming, nationally recognized program in Syracuse. We take learning off of the Hill and put it into the community. That is what Scholarship in Action is. And it doesn’t matter what your major is – you can still participate in it. The Connective Corridor has worked with students in Newhouse, VPA, Arts & Sciences, Maxwell, Whitman and the iSchool. See, your degrees can get you a job. And you can get experience that can help get you the job you really want.

Don’t believe me? Well, the numbers don’t lie. The Corridor keeps a running list of students who have been engaged with this project, and the number is pretty high – 678 students high. And that’s just the recorded number. It doesn’t count the hundreds of students who interact on a smaller scale with the Corridor or professors who have reached out and worked with us. It doesn’t count the thousands of hours that have been put towards this project, or the jobs that have been gained from working with us. It also doesn’t include the feeling you get when you realize that this is something far more interesting than a bus.

We’re transforming the city. We’re using art and culture (and bus routes, yes) to connect this booming university to this blossoming downtown.  It’s tough, believe me. You get doubters and pessimists and people who tell you not to bother, but you also get a first hand look into what a developing area looks like. The Connective Corridor is a movement of people to change a community. And it is a movement: Change only happens with 1,000 small actions, not one big BANG.

We are certainly not the only organization doing this in Syracuse. There are others around here who are as passionate as we are about making change in this historic and interesting city. That’s the beauty of this Scholarship in Action idea. We are coming together, as university members, community members, and society members to make this Corridor thing more than just a bus. We’re making a national example.

Join us, won’t you?  Looking for a way to make a difference next semester?  E-mail:  corridor@syr.edu