Trailblazing Hartwick Student Becomes First on City Commission

Call her Commissioner Sarah Matumbura '26.

The political science, criminal justice and accounting triple major just became the first Hartwick College student appointed to a City of Oneonta commission.

Sarah Matumbura '26

“I wanted to be an advocate for Hartwick students. We’re here 75 percent of the time, so we are part of the community and should be more involved.”

Sarah Matumbura '26

Political Science, Criminal Justice and Accounting Triple Major

On March 5, Mayor Mark Drnek officially appointed Matumbura to the Commission on Community Relations and Human Rights, which, according to their mission statement, aims to “Foster mutual respect and understanding among all citizens, groups and visitors within the city…” through programming, advocacy and education.

“I am beyond thrilled to be able to begin the process of engaging our students in the governance of our city,” said Drnek. “Our students are citizens of Oneonta, and for them to have a voice for making our city better not only makes sense but is long overdue.”

Professor of Political Science Laurel Elder encouraged Matumbura, an intern with the Institute of Public Service, to put her name in for the appointment.

“I’ve been active with voter registration drives, attended candidates forums and always read the newspapers,” said Matumbura. “So when Professor Elder asked me, I was very interested.”

Elder herself was thrilled with the idea.

Laurel Elder

“I truly believe that Oneonta can be an even better place to live, work, and attend college if it incorporates the perspectives of the young people who live here into its decision-making in a formal, institutional way.”

Laurel Elder

Professor of Political Science & Hartwick Institute of Public Service Co-Director

The biggest concerns Matumbura aims to bring to the committee are the need for more public transportation options to and from the College and to solidify the relationship between students and other community members, including law enforcement.

“Currently, there are so many students who don’t feel comfortable participating in community events because of the divide between the local populations and the colleges,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to shrink the divide.”

In addition to her work on the Human Rights and Community Relations counsel, Matumbura serves as the vice president of the African Student Association, treasurer of the Caribbean Student Association, a senator with the Student Government Association and was recently named as Blue Key ambassador.

“I’ve always wanted to make history,” she said. “And now, I’m making my mark here in Oneonta.”

March 6, 2024
Campaign, Institute of Public Service, Spotlight

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