April 20, 2007

Kotlowitz urges community advocacy

The 2007 Public Service and Public Interest Career Fair took place in Ida Noyes on Thursday. Coordinated by Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) and the University Community Service Center (UCSC), the event featured writer and journalist Alex Kotlowitz as a guest speaker.

Kotlowitz, writer-in-residence at Northwestern University and a former writer-in-residence at the U of C, is best known for his book, There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America. “We are a nation that far too easily turns our heads from collective unease,” Kotlowitz said on the importance of public service.

Kotlowitz urged students to become the voice of the marginalized and to tell their stories. He called those interested in public service “social critics.” “You believe the playing field is not level,” he said. He likened public service to “trying to break the silence that surrounds communities,” concluding that “public service is about finding empathy, bearing witness, telling stories.”

Over 40 nonprofit organizations attended the career fair. Although it is a yearly event, this was the first time it was co-hosted by UCSC and CAPS. Wallace Goode, director of UCSC and an associate dean in the College, said it was a natural collaboration. “CAPS speaks career; UCSC speaks passion,” he said. Goode spoke of the partnership as a method of helping students utilize the rich resources of both organizations fully.

Max Brooks, assistant director of CAPS, echoed Goode’s sentiments. He spoke of how UCSC often helps students identify their interests, while CAPS helps students find internships and full-time jobs that match those interests. Together, Brooks said, UCSC and CAPS help students “to learn outside the classroom.”