Community Engagement Scholar, Jayne Schiff

By Jayne Schiff

Class of 2022, Animal Science (major) and Wildlife Conservation and Ecology (minor)

As I approach the halfway point of my undergraduate education at UD, it feels important to reflect on where I have come from and where I am going. I am certainly no longer the scared freshman who clung to her class schedule and called home crying and wanting to quit more times than she’d like to admit. But the person I will be in the future, while still unknown, is becoming clearer as I move through my education.

I owe that clarity to Sue Serra, my Community Engagement Scholar advisor. Being a student on a large campus can be intimidating and I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with what I’m doing – or more often – what I’m not doing. It has been essential to my success that I have an advisor who knows my name and cares about how I am involved on campus. 

When we first met on a pre-semester service trip my freshman year, I never expected that the person quietly sitting with us, allowing students to lead the conversation, would become my most important connection on campus. From encouraging me to lead conversations with prospective students at tables in Trabant, to our own advising appointments in her office, Sue has helped me find my voice and has shaped my future goals to better include Community Engagement. Sue, with some all knowing power, can connect any student with the resources they need to be successful, not only in the Community Engagement Scholars program, but in any major. Who would have thought that I would have found a passion in using my animal science education to help the people in my community? Not me! But apparently Sue did, and she has helped me and students with countless other majors make the necessary connection between ourselves and Community Engagement. Currently, I am a horticulture and natural resources intern for UD Cooperative Extension. I received this career-guiding position through the guidance and support of Sue and for that I am very grateful.

This connection with Sue is not the only one I have made on campus, but it has surely enabled me to do so much more than I ever could have done on my own, and for that I am grateful. Being a part of the Community Engagement Scholars program has afforded me opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had, and having Sue as my advisor has been an integral part of my college experience so far. 

For any student considering the Community Engagement Scholars program and unsure about whether or not to join, I strongly suggest becoming a part of this community. Through this program, and the advisors that come with it, I was able to transform from a skeptical and scared student to an active member of campus life. I owe a lot of my success at UD to the Community Engagement Scholars.