INVASION OF PRIVACY: Jon Birardi pursues ambitions by giving back to Geneseo community

In addition to actively working to gain recognition for his fraternity, participating in the programs of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH) and adapting to his new position in the Geneseo Fire Department, sophomore Jonathan Birardi was recently elected to the rank of service captain of Geneseo First Response (GFR), the highest position in the organization.

"I really like the campus community," Birardi said. "Everyone seems to be really close-knit and really involved, and it seems more or less self-run by the students." Few people represent that description as truly as Birardi himself. He became an EMT in April 2005, before ever coming to Geneseo, and joined GFR in the beginning of his first semester. At the end of that semester, he was put in charge of patient care as crew chief, and in his first day as crew chief in January 2006, he had to care for a man who had gone into full cardiac arrest. He has spent this past year as the service sergeant, and was recently elected to be the service captain, "overseeing the squad for the whole academic year next year." The position entails the highest responsibilities in GFR, including training, clearing crew chiefs and taking care of operations.

Devoted to the medical field, Birardi considers GFR to be his biggest commitment on campus. "I'm pretty confident in my skills as an EMT," he said, "and I've gone through countless hours of training to get where I am." Still, he recognizes his limitations and finds it reassuring to know that help would just be a phone call away if he couldn't deal with a situation on his own. His involvement with GFR is a constant learning experience, both in the field and in study. He finds that every patient is different, and he is currently taking a class in advanced life support. Doing things on his own and gaining his own experience while taking in new knowledge from the critical care course is bringing him closer to his goal of being a doctor.

Last spring, Birardi was anonymously nominated to be a part of the NRHH, which represents one percent of leadership on college campuses nationwide. After being voted in as a member, he was nominated to run for treasurer at his first meeting. And despite being completely new to the organization, he was elected into the position. "We are really all about recognition, leadership and community service," Birardi said. "Through NRHH, I am able to participate in many events throughout the year that help to foster those."

The organization participates in different things connected to the halls throughout the year, including community service programs and assistance to the Inter-Residence Council vice chair in leadership training each semester. The recognition of the work they do, in addition to the friends he has made among the executive board and other members, has made his involvement in NRHH a worthwhile and fulfilling experience in his college life.

Birardi is also a member of Sigma Alpha Mu (Sammy), which is currently seeking recognition from the College and Inter-Greek Council. According to Birardi, there are pros and cons to recognition, but bringing the organization closer to the campus, and the campus closer to the organization, is definitely worth the effort. "We do a lot of community service events already, and if we could be recognized, we'd be able to advertise those events on campus," he said. He values Sammy both as a respectable service organization as well as a tight authentic brotherhood, and finds that it connects to the other important things in his college life.

Most recently, Birardi was voted into the Genseo Fire Department, for similar reasons as those he had for joining GFR. "I wanted to give back to the community and get involved in the medical field." He still has some paperwork, and he is in the process of becoming a medic to participate in primary patient care. After he is cleared, he will spend a few hours a week working with the fire department. He will also get back on the ambulance, which he misses from his work at home. Ultimately, his involvement in these efforts is a reflection of who he is. "It's just part of my nature to help other people," he said.

With so many activities in his life, Birardi finds more value in the time he has. "I find that I can balance it well, but if I find there is something I can't do, I'm the first one to talk to someone about it," he said As passionate as he is about all of these groups, and as much as they are setting him on a good path toward the future, he recognizes his academics before his other commitments. "I'm here to be a student, so I always put my education first." However, that has yet to present a problem.

"When I stay involved, I'm doing things that I enjoy doing, while staying focused." If stress builds up in one area of his life, he can find relief in another area. But Birardi finds that he rarely feels too stressed while he is doing the things he loves to do. He simply is out to make the most out of his college experience.