Freshman class gives back


Megan Michalski, Contributing writer

On Aug. 20, about 700 new Lakers traveled to different locations with their Introduction to Mercyhurst University (iMU) class as part of the annual Day of Service.

Every new school year, the freshman class participates in a weeklong orientation, in which each student gets to know their advisers, their fellow students and their new home at Mercyhurst University. Not only do the freshmen participate in class bonding activities and fun events during Welcome Week, they set out into the streets of Erie as well.

By participating in an all-class service project, students explore the community while helping those in need.

Starting in May, Bethany Brun, Mercyhurst’s assistant director of Community Engagement, works with other service leaders to find quality projects for the freshmen to work on. Brun, a graduate of Mercyhurst University, has worked for the Day of Service since she was a freshman. After her freshman year, Brun became a Laker Leader, and led other freshman off campus on several service projects.

She hopes that the service projects encourage new students to feel a part of the community.

“I want the students to recognize that Erie is a beautiful place beyond the gates of campus,” said Brun.

Brun acknowledged that some of the projects are uncomfortable, such as cleaning a kitchen or painting a fence, but they each provided great experience and the opportunity to really explore the streets of Erie.

Dennis Mikonsky, a freshman with an undeclared major, was assigned to work at the Erie Zoo, where he painted animals for the Zoo’s Halloween party. Mikonsky and his group saved the zoo staff hours of painting and work for an event that the entire community enjoys.

Mikonsky hopes that future freshmen view the Day of Service with “an open mind,” and have as much fun as he did with his iMU group.

The projects each year focus on addressing the five Critical Concerns of Mercy.

Hannah Frederick, a freshman Early Childhood and Special Education major, centered her experience on Reverencing the Earth. Along with her iMU group, Frederick helped build pocket gardens on State Street. She picked up litter and cleaned the surrounding area. She viewed it as a bonding experience with her iMU group.

“It was nice because I made friends while doing it, everyone in our iMU group got to know each other that day,” said Frederick. “I just had a lot of fun.”

Freshman Day of Service allows the freshman class to help their new community as well as offers the opportunity to forge a stronger connection with their new home at Mercyhurst.