Commencement May 19

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Marc Artuz '24: Developing An Engaged Mindset On Campus

Now a senior, Marc Artuz '24, a Psychology and Human Services major, is a familiar face on the Elmira College campus. He is the Captain of EC’s men’s basketball team, president of the Intercultural Student-Athlete Alliance (ISAA) club and member of several clubs, completed the Soaring Higher Leadership program, volunteered at the Elmira Neighborhood Transformation Center, pitched a product at the 607 Soaring Southern Tier Startup Collegiate Competition, organized a poetry slam, and is a “tour guide” in EC’s latest virtual tour video. But Artuz didn’t start his EC journey engaged in the EC community.

“In my first year I kept to myself,” said Artuz. “I don’t think I understood that I had a voice, and I didn’t understand what effect I can have on others.”

Artuz said his self-seclusion was partly due to the pandemic, which began when he was in his senior year of high school. COVID restrictions meant he missed out on some big milestones, like prom and graduation ceremonies. COVID restrictions also dampened activities at EC.

However, things changed in his second year. Artuz, whose family comes from New York City and Puerto Rico, was invited to participate in The Fusion Arts Collective, a free, 10-week Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) arts education opportunity involving photography and glass fusion. The program, sponsored by Community Arts of Elmira, centered on themes of connection, community, cityscape, and identity.

“I made glass art about the community. I was making a piece at Grove Park, which is full of beauty. But there weren’t any people there. I wondered, where’s the gap? It was from this thinking that I came to realize there’s more I can do than sit in my room.”

With this in mind, and as COVID restrictions began to abate, Artuz began taking advantage of opportunities as they came to him. When Hannah Whittier '23, a Childhood Education major, invited members of the EC Men’s Basketball team to participate in a dance program at the Transformation Center, Artuz signed up.

“We went and helped the kids the best we could,” he said about the volunteer experience.

When Larry Parker, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)/Title IX Coordinator, started the ISAA club, Casey McGraw, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, recommended Artuz to lead the club.

“Marc is a responsible young man who is passionate beyond belief and was blessed with an incredibly creative mind, making him the perfect candidate to be the first president of the ISAA,” said McGraw. “He has a special gift of bringing people together and building a sense of community, so I knew we were in good hands.”

Artuz quickly began by reaching out to other club presidents and members. He started finding ways to integrate student-athletes into campus events, particularly different cultural events and experiences.

These initial experiences started a snowball effect, and Artuz went from passively getting involved to actively seeking opportunities to participate in clubs and events.

For example, Artuz was inspired when he discovered a poetry slam during an away trip for basketball. He was looking for a place to eat but found this exciting experience where poets were open and accepting. He decided to create a similar event on campus.

“I wanted to create an environment that was safe and free of judgment,” he said. “I collaborated with the Black Student Union, Active Minds, and ISAA clubs so that those club members could have a chance to share their messages about mental health and what it’s like to be Black, Hispanic, and other cultures within campus.”

“As with the other things I’ve done, I didn’t do this because of me, but because I was doing something that would help. I was doing it for others.”

Importantly, being engaged and active has never come at the expense of Artuz’s grades or his own well-being.

“My academics are always my priority. Being a student-athlete taught me how to handle responsibility and my courses have taught me to take care of myself first before trying to help others. And, without a doubt, the encouragement of my family back at home kept me focused and motivated to do more,” he shared, adding that his mother makes sure he gets the grades she knows he can earn.

Looking ahead, Artuz is grateful for the support he’s had and the growth opportunities he’s found at EC. His next steps include attending graduate school, becoming a licensed psychologist, and opening his own practice. He is excited to explore mental health practices in different cultures and apply what he learns as he helps his clients heal and thrive.

“Everything I have done here, good and bad, has shaped me into the person I am,” he said. “When I look back to see the person I am now, I’m in a better place than where I was. I’m content with that.”

For current and future students, Artuz advises them to “be courageous in exploring who you can be. Be open to friends. To opportunities. To new ideas. Take the time to find out what you want to be in life and who you want to be and work at that. Be you.”

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