Russell Sage College

logo: Russell Sage College

Russell Sage College

logo: Russell Sage College
Thinking Locally, Globally and Collaboratively

For Noora Ahmed, Community Work-Study is an Appealing Alternative to “Traditional” Work-Study

Noora Ahmed
Noora Ahmed

Since early spring semester 2020, Russell Sage College student Noora Ahmed ’23 has held a work-study position at the Refugee Welcome Center in Albany. 

“I call what I do newcomer support,” said Noora. 

She meets regularly with high school and college-age individuals to offer English language practice and to serve as a resource for young adults adjusting to life in America. 

Some of the young adults she works with are applying to college or have just started college; one will enter state university in the fall. 

“I’ve given them information about what to expect in college, how to take notes, how to email a professor, so they feel prepared,” she said. “They are worried about how they are going to fit in, will they understand what the professor is saying, are they going to make friends — everything that we felt when we started college, but amplified.”

Noora sends her English-language learners articles from national newspapers and magazines before a meeting. During a session, they may reread articles together and discuss the content and new vocabulary words. “At Sage, my freshman year, we used the New York Times a lot. And I want to give them an idea of the expectation of a reading level in college.”

Noora, a Psychology and Sociology double major, said her work with diverse populations at the Refugee Welcome Center will help her stand out on applications to Psychology graduate programs. 

But she is mostly focused on how personally rewarding her work-study experience is. She’s loved learning about other cultures and has been inspired to learn more about issues that affect refugees and immigrants, even attending a recent Refugee Immigrant Community Forum in Troy.

“I went into Psych specifically to help people,” she said. “I could work in an office, I could do tech support, or I could do one-on-one hands-on work with the community. I thought that was a really cool opportunity. I hope to do this throughout the rest of my time at Sage.”

More about Community Work-Study

Noora’s position at the Refugee Welcome Center is supported by the Federal Work-Study program, which pays a portion of eligible students’ wages in work-study positions. 

Contrary to popular belief, however, the Federal Work-Study program funds opportunities beyond support roles in campus offices.

Dozens of local human service and arts organizations — including YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Unity House of Troy and the Arts Center of the Capital Region — hire Sage’s work-study eligible students.

Community work-study positions in nonprofits allow students to contribute to a cause they care about while they build skills and get paid, said Assistant Professor and Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement Ali Schaeffing, Ph.D.   

Students rely on work-study positions to help meet college-related expenses, Professor Schaeffing continued. “Community work-study gets those funds into students’ pockets, while providing meaningful work experience, and serving our community.” 

Learn more about on- and off-campus work-study positions at