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Graduate student engages her peers

Community spirit motivates Erica Monnin to involve fellow students in volunteer work outside SU's campus.

See more SUperlative videos about standout people and places on campus, including some "firsts," "bests" and "favorites."

Erica Monnin says she hopes to change people’s perspectives on their lives.

As a graduate assistant in the Office of Engagement Programs at Hendricks Chapel, she helps plan and promote events and head major volunteer initiatives. Monnin is a higher administration graduate student at Syracuse University’s School of Education and says she loves the college environment and working with students.

In spring 2011, she received the Graduate Student Employee of the Year Award after being nominated by her director, Syeisha Byrd. Byrd says Monnin is her left hand when it comes to tasks in the office, helping to keep her balanced and on track. Because of Monnin’s hard work, she deserved the recognition, Byrd said.

Monnin returned the praise. “I work hard but everybody in this office works hard,” Monnin said.  “For me it (the award) was a validation that Syeisha and the office appreciate what I do.”

Before her volunteer involvement at SU, Monnin worked with law services for underprivileged communities and volunteered with Somali refugees in Columbus, Ohio.  

“I think I blur the line between volunteering and working,” she said. “Sometimes my work is volunteering.”

Monnin coordinates programs with refugees and after-school art programs for children, as well as the office’s three annual events: the CROP Walk, blanket drive and Thanksgiving Day drive.

By encouraging SU students to get involved outside the academic community, Monnin says she hopes that they get to know people who are different from them and “see beyond what they usually see, challenging what they hold as being normal.”


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