Suffolk County Community College student Evan Feliciano, 21, is asking fellow students to “pay it forward” in a campuswide initiative promoting positivity just in time for the holiday season.
Earlier this month, Feliciano and his team of 15 other students began passing out SHARK cards, an acronym of the school’s mascot that spells out Students Here Are Really Kind. The card recognizes those who have performed an act of kindness, and asks them to pass the cards along when they see other good deeds performed on campus.
“This movement is something that can speak to students all year round,” Feliciano, of Hauppauge, said. “But especially during the holidays, it’s so important to bring people together and put some pep in their step for those who may be feeling down.”
Feliciano got the idea for the SHARK movement after reading about Rachel’s Challenge, a nonprofit honoring Rachel Scott, a 17-year-old girl who was killed during the tragic Columbine High School shootings in 1999.
“We’re looking for people who perform simple acts of kindness, like holding the door for someone else or reaching out to new students who may feel alone,” Feliciano said. “Doing little things really adds up, and increases positivity.”
Feliciano, who is an active member of student government and on the student activities board at the Michael J. Grant campus in Brentwood, is working with school officials and other campus groups to bring the movement into fruition on a larger scale.
“From my perspective, I think it’s really important for students at any college to make connections with others,” Lisa Hamilton, director of campus activities and student leadership development at SCCC said. “Feliciano is reaching out to other student groups, and bringing people together.”
So far, Feliciano and his team have distributed 1,000 cards on the 10,000-student campus. The group is also developing a digital SHARK campaign, featuring photos demonstrating acts of kindness to be shown on campus media. According to Hamilton, the campaign is anticipated to launch in spring 2015.
“This program has really blossomed under Evan’s guidance,” Hamilton said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see.”