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Koch Fellowship Highlights the 'Noblest of Professions'

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Koch Fellowship Highlights the 'Noblest of Professions'

The late Ed Koch, beloved former mayor of New York City, was an immensely quotable politician, delivering brash bon mots as only a Bronx-born New Yorker could. But the words printed underneath his portrait at his memorial service best sum up Koch’s legacy: "Public service, when it's done honorably and it's done well, is the noblest of professions."Ed Koch
 
The Edward I. Koch Fellowship Program was founded on this principle, engaging students as incoming freshmen to take on at least 200 annual hours of community service to nonprofit organizations and government agencies throughout New York City.
 
But service programming at the Colin Powell School—and the former Colin Powell Center, where the Koch Fellowship was born—has never been about just promoting volunteerism, or putting in the hours. The Koch program ensures that students connect these experiences with their academic goals and professional trajectories. As they experience the challenges and rewards of working for the common good, students are also interacting with professionals in their chosen field of interest and seeing firsthand how community organizations work to meet public needs.
 
In a variety of ways, the Koch program provides maximum flexibility for students to take ownership of their service work, and to explore changes in their service commitments and interests as they move from their freshman to senior years. This year, the Koch program will maintain this core flexibility while establishing some new structures to help students ground their service experiences.  In particular, new program elements guide students through a fuller exploration of the different elements of a full service spectrum, from direct service through advocacy, policymaking, and activism. A targeted biweekly seminar takes students through a curriculum that emphasizes four elements over four years: exposure, engagement, experience, and expertise.
 
Koch Fellows will also get a chance to work with students within our other fellowship programs when they organize a collective service day in the upcoming year. And over spring break, they will have the option of working on disaster relief efforts with organizations rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy. "Throughout the course of this fellowship, fellows are asked to think about the different areas of service, read about ways to engage the community, and understand core concepts of community partnership," says Katherine Cho, program manager. "After four years, fellows leave CCNY as different people—more savvy, more skilled, and more aware of the challenges of working with others to create sustainable change."Gen. Colin L. Powell and Fellows
 
Fellows may go on to serve on the boards of community credit unions, cross borders to lead international development projects, work in one of New York City's public offices, or simply take a more holistic vision of citizenship and service into their professional lives. In all cases, the Edward I. Koch Fellowship in Public Service has been a key component in an unfolding Colin Powell School vision: to make the public university a unique incubator for our next generation of leaders, and to insure that those leaders are thoughtful and capable stewards of the common good.