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PROFILE: Honors Scholar’s Habitat Experience Is A Valuable Lesson In Community

UC freshman Emilie Rottman’s work at the UC/Habitat for Humanity home expanded her experience beyond hammering nails.

Date: 10/18/2004 8:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
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Emilie Rottman
Emilie Rottman at the UC/Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity site in Mt. Auburn

UC architecture major Emilie Rottman first thought that it never stopped raining in Cincinnati. “The first time I came to campus, I remember there was a lot of construction and a lot of rain. But when I saw the architecture building, I thought, ‘Wow! That’s awesome!’ And I’m happy to finally see that the sun exists here, too,” joked the 18-year-old freshman from West Bloomfield, Mich.

Rottman is settling into her classes and into her living quarters on the Honors Scholars floor in Daniels Hall. As part of her experience in the Honors Scholars program, Emilie was one of 20 first-year students who first took a swing at the construction of the university’s latest Habitat for Humanity project at 128 Winkler St. The project, launched two weeks before UC classes actually got underway, was part of a new Honors Scholars English 101 course.

The UC’s Honors Scholars Program provides courses, programming and social opportunities for UC’s academically talented students. Emilie is among UC’s 529 freshmen Honors Scholars. The program numbers approximately 2,000 overall in UC students.

Emilie Rottman

Emilie was experienced in building stage sets at her high school, but she didn’t quite know what to expect when she started working at the Habitat site. “I thought there would be a bunch of construction workers there and that we would be helping them build a house. Instead, the site coordinator would say, “See that wood right there? You’re going to take it and build a wall. It was pretty cool.”

Instructor Beverly Brannan says students kept a journal the entire week that they worked at the site.  Much of the reading and writing assignments will focus on community service, defining one’s sense of community, society and culture.

“We’re exploring how communities are different and how they’re the same. For example, I grew up in the suburbs, where you would never see a piece of wood covering a window, unlike the Habitat neighborhood. And here in Cincinnati, although it was quiet and peaceful on the street, you would hear sirens around the area all the time.

“But at the same time, you would see children playing together and hanging out together, and you saw the sense of community. The neighbors would often come out and talk with us.”

The university-wide Habitat Project is set for completion in the spring. Volunteers across the university are now spending their Saturdays at the construction site. Also, the volunteers will be working on a Habitat float for the UC Homecoming Parade, coming up on Oct. 30. The float will reflect the celebration of Mick and Mack’s 100th year on campus.


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