Presidential Public Service Fellows honored

Presidential Public Service Fellows honored
Melanie Morse (center) discusses the details of working with the Hamden Arts and Recreation Department. Morse was one of 11 Presidential Public Service Fellows honored at an awards ceremony and luncheon Oct. 7 at the University Club in the TD Bank Sports Center.

Oct. 7, 2013 - Quinnipiac senior Steven Pflug spent nine weeks during a summer program working with the Hamden Police Department to help develop a predictive crime mapping project.

"It's basically tactical intelligence," explained Pflug, a criminal justice and political science major. "It is gathering information, analyzing that information and displaying it back to the public. The experience was extremely valuable because it gave me first-hand experience into something that I want to do for the rest of my life, which is developing programs and models that allow me to give back to the public and help protect people."

Pflug was one of 11 Presidential Public Service Fellows honored Oct. 7 at an awards ceremony and luncheon at the University Club in the TD Bank Sports Center. He was joined by students Ashley Alcott, Michael Colson, Melissa Condo, Anthony DeMarinis, Patrick Donnelly, Michelle Farrell, Lucy Freeman, Ashley Hartle, April McKenzie and Melanie Morse.

 The fellowship program, which began at Quinnipiac in 2003 with the creation of a trust by donors Hank and Nancy Bartels, gives students the opportunity to work in municipal government offices with a department head as a mentor-supervisor.

Thanks to the Bartels, fellowship director Scott McLean, professor of political science, and University President John Lahey, the fellows worked for municipal departments in Hamden and North Haven that included economic development, public works, youth services, the mayor's and first selectman's office, elderly services, public library, planning and zoning, and arts, recreation and culture.

"Our relationships with the towns of Hamden and North Haven have never been better," Lahey told the fellows. "I have no doubt that the work you have done as students represents the very best of Quinnipiac. The way you have represented this University, the work you have done and the contributions you've made are just enormous."

Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra and Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson were equally effusive in their praise of the students, using the word "enthusiastic" to describe the fellows.

"It means as much to us as it means to the students," Jackson said. "We take this as an opportunity to kind of refresh ourselves and reconnect with the principals that got us involved in public service at the outset. Having these very skillful, very energetic, very enthusiastic students around who were so thirsty for knowledge really worked out for all of us. They provided real services to the residents of Hamden."

North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda reported similar positive results in his town. He pointed out that one of last year's fellows, John Muzzy, created North Haven's Facebook page, which provides updates and alerts and currently has 1,560 followers. 

"It's the third consecutive year that we've done this and we thoroughly enjoy the program," Freda said. "We just don't give them menial tasks. We really get them involved with government."

Patrick Donnelly, for instance, worked in Jackson's office and had responsibilities that ranged from assisting with Hamden's Farmers' Market to developing figures for FEMA reimbursement in the aftermath of February's winter storm Nemo.

"I was working with every department in the town," Donnelly said. "My biggest takeaway from this program was learning how to communicate with people and how to effectively create action."

Each student displayed poster boards highlighting their experiences and received an award at the luncheon, which was also attended by state Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney and state Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, Jr. The event concluded with speeches from the Bartels, who have seen about 150 students benefit from their generosity.

"You have a great university behind you and thank you for what you have done for the community," said Nancy Bartels.