A quote attributed to Woody Allen — “Eighty percent of success is showing up” – fits Upstate’s Michael Rosenthal, a student in the CNY Master of Public Health graduate program.
Last year Michael, 26, showed up to volunteer in the kitchen at Syracuse’s Ronald McDonald House, where families can stay while their children are undergoing extended medical treatments.
“They really liked my cooking and word got around,” Michael said. “Suddenly, Lee Wilder, the house manager, asked if I would like to be a weekend manager.”
Michael enjoyed being at Ronald McDonald House so much, he asked if he could do his MPH field placement there. He now spends several days a week helping the house extend its mission to families and physicians in neighboring counties.
Volunteering with social service agencies is a major part of Michael’s busy schedule. He currently volunteers at the Salvation Army’s Booth House, a shelter for runaway and homeless teens, and has helped out at the Rescue Mission, Safe Kids Coalition and Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.
The Cortland native attended Onondaga Community College and SUNY Cortland, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in political science.
At the Upstate student club fair last year, Michael met CNYMPH student Marnie Annese, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Services Coordinator for Onondaga County.
Michael and Marnie (the CNYMPH commencement speaker this year) talked about their passion for the subject, which eventually will be the focus of Michael’s capstone project for the MPH degree. He’ll examine what local service providers are doing, separately and collaboratively, for homeless LGBT youth.
“It’s emerging now as a major talking point,” Michael said. “Gay and transgendered kids get kicked out of the home, or leave on their own, and end up on the street.”
Within the LGBT youth population, Michael said, there is a large amount of “couch-surfing,” and an avoidance of faith-based shelters that might disapprove of their sexual orientation, which makes the population particularly hard to reach.
Michael is proud to be part of CNYMPH program, which he hails as excellent. He especially values its connection to Upstate’s Center for Civic Engagement and its work with social service organizations here and in developing countries.
“My work is out there,” he added, motioning toward the city’s streets. “It’s hard to balance, but being a student here has opened up a lot of doors these past few months.”
Michael has also opened up some doors by himself.
“My first job ever was in a coffee shop when I was 17 or 18,” he said. “Just about every night at closing I’d be there hanging out, but I’d go do the dishes and help clean up. When a barista job opened up, just from doing dishes, I got it.
“If you have a goal, go at it,” he said. “Don’t wait for an offer. If something needs to be done, why sit around wishing for it to happen? Start volunteering. Just show up at the door.”