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Woman fixing a bicycle wheel

Making a Difference: Volunteering at Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op

We talked with Maria Jiang ’23 about what she’s learned—about fixing bicycles, teaching, and the city she lives in—by pitching in at a community bike shop.

In this series, Karen Guzman talks to Yale SOM students about how volunteering complements their business education and connects them to their community. 

Student: Maria Jiang ’23, joint degree student at Yale SOM and the Yale School of the Environment

Organization: Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op, New Haven

What drew you to this particular volunteer opportunity?

I love biking and bicycles, do-it-yourself projects, and teaching others the ropes. The Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op’s mission is to get people in New Haven on bikes, and it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. 

What are the values that motivate you to volunteer?

Not only is the co-op a place where you can show up and work on your own bike or fix a bike that’s been sitting around, so it can be sold or donated, it’s also a vibrant community of people who are kind, creative, and generous with their time. They’ve inspired me to live out these same qualities.

How does volunteering complement your MBA education?

It’s easy to never look past the one million amazing activities and events happening in Evans Hall and around Yale, but as students we’re also part of the greater New Haven community. The co-op reminds me that the ampersand part of our school’s mission, educating leaders for business & society, can happen in this city every day. I’m also lucky to be part of the co-op as it goes through a leadership transition this year. As part of the financial resources & sustainability committee, I’m putting the insights and analytical tools I’ve learned in the classroom to good use right here. 

What’s one surprising thing you have learned through volunteering?

I always learn something new when I show up at the co-op. Sometimes it’s something mechanical. Sometimes it’s the cool things that someone else is up to. Sometimes it’s even my own capacity to teach!

What have you learned about the city of New Haven through volunteering?

There are so many amazing ways to take part in advocacy here. For example, you can join the Safe Streets Coalition or write to your alder or to the state legislature to address issues. And I’ve also learned that New Haven is beautiful. Come join us for our Coffee Outside event every Friday at 8 a.m. We meet outside the co-op and pedal together to the top of East Rock. The New Haven Bike Party is another very chill and cool ride through the city at night—with themes!

Photo by Ryan Caron King.

Email Karen Guzman with your stories of student volunteering.