To the ends of the earth…and back!

NYU Flashback // Community Service

Photo credit: the fabulous Betty Cremmins

Ten years ago, as I sat in the back of my parents’ car driving through Chinatown, hundreds of thoughts raced through my head; we were headed for my first dorm room at New York University. The sights and smells, some more distinct than others, invaded my senses.

Once moved in several hours later, cinder block walls stared back at me as I heard the hustle and bustle of New York City outside my freshman dorm room window. I had been selected to take part in Project Outreach, a weeklong program which brought students face to face with service project opportunities in/around “campus”, i.e the streets of NYC. Many life changing experiences were had during my years with Outreach, first as a participant then a team leader and site coordinator.

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with the newest Outreachers, members of NYU’s class of 2017, telling them how my Outreach experience shaped my life’s path–and continues to do so in fact! I was ecstatic to share the podium with two great friends and past Outreachers, Rishi and Betty. As we spoke with the students, we couldn’t help remembering sitting in their seats ten years ago. Little did we know the journeys that lay ahead. In addition to attending ALL of our classes …

Rishi is now an ER doc at a top NYC hospital and plans to do Doctors Without Boarders. During his tenure at NYU he remained heavily involved with community service, often as President or Chair of various clubs/initiatives. He implemented countless wonderful projects around NYC and even spent time abroad doing medical missions! I now know where I’m going should I need any ER help, whether in NYC or beyond!

Whilst still at NYU Betty biked across America through Bike and Build, stopping along the way to build homes for Habitat for Humanity. She spent time doing Americorps before heading to Antarctica to work as a carpenter (does she really need a reason?!). A Masters from Columbia’s SIPA Program followed and now she works for Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), dealing with top corporations around the world and helping them to make more environmentally responsible decisions. Walmart is one such recipient of her expertise! It should also be said that Betty still volunteers at the Go Project, a tutoring program on Saturday mornings she first visited as an Outreacher. For a place as transient as NYC, Betty certainly maintains her roots!

I believe most of you know my story, so just for fun: I remained heavily involved with various organizations whilst at NYU and helped to create a chapter of LiNK, a Human Rights club focused on educating people about the human rights violations North Koreans suffer. I volunteered, interned and eventually worked at the American Cancer Society which brought me to Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in 2008 as an extreme fundraiser. Before leaving Tz, I visited and fell in love with Shalom Orphanage Centre in Karatu. Then, I applied for and was rejected from a great grad school program due to my inexperience with international development. Rather than bask in my failure (which I did for several days!), I moved back to Tanzania in 2009 where I created a Child Sponsorship Program through Journeys of Solutions so Shalom children could attend an English school, Tumaini. All the while I worked as an event planner/project manager for a fabulous company, i.e. Design Events Inc. My bosses’ generosity allowed me to travel to Tz for months at a time so long as I returned each January to work! Now, four years later, I work for TEC at Tumaini, and continue to see to it that children have access to education. Cannot believe five of the initial JOS kids we enrolled in 2009 are graduating in two weeks! Five from TEC’s program will also graduate! They’ll be high schoolers come January! Needless to say, I’m hoping all these adventures might actually qualify me for grad school…eventually…

Other Outreachers have gone around the world serving people–from Teach for America to Peace Corps, and beyond! Can’t wait to see where these students will go!!

Dream big, kids!! Go Outreach!!

LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES?! Check out or email me and I’d be happy to give you other suggestions, including contact info for Rishi/Betty!

Outreach shirts through the years!

One response

  1. Susan Rickert

    Dear Elizabeth,

    I am just coming up for air after Bayo’s wonderful 6 day visit in San Francisco. It was awesome and I hope that he reaped the reward of speaking at 5 different venues, raising money and awareness about his exciting school, Tumaini, and for Lightness’s vocational school in Lake Eyasi, as well as generated some more clients who want to come on safari with him.

    Your NYU flashback post was fascinating and inspiring.

    Will you be returning to Tanzania again? You didn’t mention it in your new post. You are such an invaluable asset to Bayo and his school and the scholarship program.

    Hope to hear from you soon.


    Sue Rickert

    06/09/2013 at 12:55

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