In 1886, Dwight Hall was founded as an exclusively undergraduate Christian group for community service.

But over 125 years later, Dwight Hall is looking to recruit graduate and professional school population for its service efforts.

Over the last year, graduate and professional school students have expressed interest in joining Dwight Hall’s community service efforts, said Dwight Hall Assistant Director for Innovation and Leadership Development Marquita Taylor. Now, the community service and social justice umbrella organization is developing new initiatives and strategies to promote service engagement among students from Yale’s graduate and professional schools. Dwight Hall also hopes to formalize relationships with professional school organizations that serve the community, such as clinics at Yale Law School, said Dwight Hall Outreach Coordinator Abigail Cipparone ’19.

“[Graduate and professional students] want to be able to connect to an organization that has a service and social justice component as well,” Taylor said. “However, our programming hasn’t been for them, so in thinking about that feedback, we’ve decided to focus this next year on programming and service initiatives and activities for grad and professional students.”

Dwight Hall has begun “building a network of peers” by more effectively using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Eventbrite to promote their programs, Taylor said. She has also attended graduate and professional school events to highlight Dwight Hall’s “interests as an entity in catering to graduate and professional students and their desires to serve.”

Dwight Hall kicked off its new efforts to recruit graduate and professional school students last Friday with a mixer for those interested in serving the New Haven community.

According to Taylor, graduate and professional schools lack a central community service group like Dwight Hall, which poses a barrier for some students looking for service opportunities.

Jessie Zhan SPH ’19, who attended last Friday’s mixer at Dwight Hall, said she has already done community service in New Haven but still is oftentimes unsure how to get involved.

“I wouldn’t say there’s nothing going on,” Zhan said. “It’s just not a lot of concrete information, and they’re not really organized. Even though sometimes I want to do something, it’s just not enough organization.”

Dwight Hall Graduate Service Fellow Patrice Collins GRD ’22, a member of the Graduate Student Assembly and Graduate and Professional Student Senate, said she is working on a more central database for graduate students to find service opportunities, which will include a collaborative calendar of events from across groups that will allow students to see what opportunities are available.

Taylor, the Dwight Hall administrator, also noted that some programs at Dwight Hall are only open to undergraduate students. She said she wants to expand these programs so that graduate and professional students can also have a role.

“We as an organization are really committed to the New Haven community and the many community partners we have, and it would be very valuable, I think, for our existing community partners to engage with our graduate and professional students,” Taylor said. “It’s important that we’re intentional on our end in working with our existing community partners to develop opportunities for the graduate and professional students.”

Cipparone, a student leader at the community service organization, said she envisions “a very fluid line” between undergraduate and graduate community engagement.

Dwight Hall is located at 67 High St.

Asha Prihar | .

Asha Prihar served as managing editor of the News during the 2019-20 academic year. Before that, she covered community service, Yale's professional schools and undergraduate student life as a staff reporter. She is a senior in Silliman College studying political science.