Reflections on my first year

Reflections on my first year
by Isabelle Jenkins ’10, Assistant Director of the Donelan Office

Six years ago, I had my very first interaction with the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning. I was a junior at Holy Cross, and taking my first elective, Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies (as a pre-med student, I had very little room in my course schedule). I elected to do an on-campus project to raise awareness about breast cancer and to fundraise for the cause. What I never would have predicted at the start of that project was that my project not only would turn into the Holy Cross student group, HC for a Cure, but that my project would be one of several things to cause me to forgo applying to medical school, attend Divinity School, and return to Holy Cross as the Assistant Director of the Donelan Office.

Not only did my CBL experience in my Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies course deepen my engagement with the course material and enhance my learning of the theory, but it also sparked in me for the first time the idea of possibility. For so long, I really only thought I was going to do one thing, and that I would work my hardest to do that very one thing very well. It never crossed my mind that there were other things I might enjoy, might be good at, might learn from. But when I ended up in my first elective course, which also happened to be a CBL course, I was forced out of this mindset, as I had to learn new skills and build strong relationships to be successful in my CBL project. I had to reach out to community partners who were working to raise awareness for breast cancer, I had to connect deeply with people in the Holy Cross community who had been affected in some way by breast cancer, I had to work with a group of Holy Cross students to put on a successful event, and I had to reflect on my experience, looking critically at the ways in which the theory was being put into practice (and at the ways that my identity as a woman affected my ability to be successful due to the (mostly) unconscious marginalization of women in everyday life). Discovering and developing these new skills enabled me to do so much more than I thought I could do, to see the possibilities that lay ahead for me.

The relationships I created though CBL only further enhanced the opening up of possibility in my life, as the people I had conversations with and the stories I heard inspired me to get out of the science lab and engage with the life surrounding me. This is not to say that the analytical skills I gained in my science courses were not worthwhile. Rather, this is to say that my community engagement experience allowed me to further hone my analytical skills because I was now able to pair them with deep relational skills. The stories that I heard from breast cancer survivors, the conversations I had with non-profits regarding the challenges they face in their work, and the hope that I witnessed in the nurses and doctors working with breast cancer patients exponentially increased what I learned in the classroom. The possibilities that these relationships and my learning experience opened up for me became so much brighter than the one I had tethered myself to at a young age. They became so bright in fact that my path changed, my goals expanded, and my desire to go to medical school became a memory instead of my dream.

Coming back to Holy Cross and to the Donelan Office six years later has further proved to me that participation in CBL (for all parties involved – students, faculty, community partners) opens up possibilities that didn’t seem possible before, most especially due to the relationships formed throughout the CBL experience. From the student who wants to be a teacher because of her experience tutoring math to eighth graders, to the community partner who can recruit more broadly because of a marketing video made by a group of CBL volunteers, to the faculty member who is inspired to reflect more with her students because of the deep connections they make in their CBL journals, the possibilities that the CBL experience brings about, and the relationships that are formed through the experience, seem endless. My greatest hope as an educator in this field is that students come to know that which brings great meaning to them through this hands-on relational work, as well as critically analyze the structures that marginalize so many. This combination of meaning-making and critical analysis can come together to light a fire in students to explore not only all that is possible to them and to the world, but also all that they thought was once impossible.

Thus, my greatest learning from my first year working in the Donelan Office is that CBL, and the relationships formed through the experience, inspires participants to make the impossible possible. I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve witnessed it over and over again in my past ten months being back on the hill. It’s challenging work, it’s frustrating work, and it’s rewarding work. There is no greater joy for me in my work then to see a relationship created through the CBL experience bring about so much momentum to keep going, to keep trying, to keep tackling the world as it is. The possibilities that CBL creates, and the willingness to go after those possibilities from students, faculty, and community partners alike are what is going to begin to help turn this world into the world that it should be. There is much more work to be done, structures to analyze and dismantle, and many more to engage, but CBL helps to turn this overwhelming and impossible work into that which is achievable and that which is possible.

A Senior’s Words of Gratitude to Our Community Partners

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to address an entire room full of the people who help make Community-Based Learning a viable program for students at Holy Cross.  I wrote this speech, which I’ve included below, not only to thank our community partners for the work they do, but to remind them of how this work contributes to our academic and personal growth.

If my four years here have taught me anything, it’s that college isn’t just about what you learn.  It’s about the person you become through your learning.

In that respect, CBL has been an invaluable aspect of my experience here at Holy Cross, contributing to both my academic and personal growth. Before I arrived at Holy Cross, social justice and community service were things I’d never really considered.

But now, as a graduating senior, social justice and community service have become integral to my identity as a student and as a citizen. Going out into the community and experiencing both the frustrations and the successes of treating social problems awakened in me a social consciousness developed otherwise.

Being able to forge a relationship with the Worcester community has shaped my college experience into one I’m proud of and excited by. Many Holy Cross students neglect to explore Worcester and claim it as their community. We tend to get wrapped up in the monotony of campus culture so that even when we do engage in community service, we do so with a level of distance.

Our objective is not to get to know the community and make its problems our own; our objective is to become more “well-rounded” by adding yet another item to our collection of commitments and responsibilities. We approach service with romanticized hopes of intimately touching the lives of those we (often condescendingly) deem to be “less-fortunate” than we are.

I’ll be the first to admit I initially became involved in service at Holy Cross for that very reason. It wasn’t until I unwittingly enrolled in a CBL course that the paradigm of service shifted for me. When I found out my Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies course would require me to go out into Worcester and try to determine how our course objectives played out in the real world, I was skeptical.

But as the semester progressed, I came to see the pedagogical value of observing theory in practice. For me, engaging in the community didn’t just illustrate the social problems and structural inequalities discussed in our course readings; engaging in the community broke down the “us/them” boundary many of my peers carefully maintain between ourselves and the Worcester community. Immersing myself in the community made theoretical problems and inequalities personal imperatives.

Through the relationship I’ve grown with the Worcester community, I’ve come to see Worcester not as a place I inhabit between vacations but as my home. I’ve come to see broader social problems as personal calls to action. I’ve come to see that theory and practice are never mutually exclusive things.

In the same way, I’ve learned that academic and personal growth often develop in positive feedback loops. As my academic objectives pushed me into the community, the community’s willingness not only to receive me but to teach me changed my personal perspective on social justice and community engagement. This new perspective then inspired a sense of urgency in my academic pursuits that continues to motivate me in questioning the ways inequality is constructed in our society.

So, if I can speak for my fellow Community-Based Learning students and Interns, on behalf of all of us, I’d like to thank the community partners who warmly and generously open up their doors for us. Thank you for taking the time to engage with us in such deep and inspiring ways. The impact you have on our lives stretches far beyond the four-year window of our time here at Holy Cross.

Thank you.

 

–Rachel E. Greenberg, ’15

What a Week!

By Michelle Sterk Barrett, Director of the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning

There have been so many exciting events for the Donelan Office in the past week including: a welcome dinner where our new CBL Interns met the current Interns; the Vanicelli lecture by CBL Intern Jake Medina ’16;  the second Hidden Worcester Tour for faculty and staff led by Dr. Tony Cashman; a CBL faculty lunch where three CBL Interns (Cindy Nguyen ’15, Jenny Sipiora ’15, and Sarah Paletta ’15) shared their reflections about how community engagement impacted their intellectual and personal growth at Holy Cross; a fishbowl reflecting upon Volunteerism and Social Problems moderated by CBL Intern, Cindy Nguyen ’15 and SPUD Intern, Nick Cormier ’15; the Community Partner Reception sponsored by the College’s Community Engagement Committee; an evening reflection session led by three CBL Interns (Lauren Suprenant ’16, Jenny Sipiora ’15, and Kristen Kelly ’15) in conjunction with Bridget Cass and Isabelle Jenkins; an in-class reflection session led by Isabelle Jenkins and two of our CBL Interns (Shea Kennedy ’17 and Bridget Cullen ’17); and an article entitled “What is the point of service, really?” by Kathleen Hirsch on the Crux website that highlights my dissertation research.  Thank you to all who participated in making this a very successful and inspiring week!

While there were numerous remarkable moments within these events, I would like to highlight a few public comments made during the week that I thought were worth repeating in this forum.

Monday’s fishbowl, Volunteerism and Social Problems: Making Things Better or Worse?, included a critical look at  community service by the panelists (myself, Emily Breakell ’17, Sr. Michele Jacques from Marie Anne Center, and Nancy O’Coin from Quinsigamond Elementary School).  We considered the way in which service may perpetuate systemic injustice, strip dignity from those being “served,” or be burdensome to the organizations that host volunteers in an effort to ensure that we serve with greater intentionality, thoughtfulness, and understanding of community partner perspectives.  During the event I was asked what I consider to be “success” in our office’s work with students.  I responded, “At a minimum, I hope students will gain a deeper understanding of their course content through integrating theory and concepts with real world experience. Beyond this, I hope that students’ prolonged community engagement experiences (through CBL, SPUD, community work study, immersion trips, etc.) will lead to questions—questions around who society tends to blame for poverty and the related assumptions many hold about those living in poverty; questions around fairness and how systemic inequality perpetuates itself across generations; questions about what responsibility each of us has towards the common good. Ultimately, my hope is that through community engagement experiences and reflection upon those experiences, students will learn to think more critically about societal structures, act more compassionately towards those facing inequity, take greater responsibility for recognizing the role that all of us (often unintentionally) play in perpetuating injustice , and develop a commitment to staying engaged with the ‘gritty reality of the world’ for a lifetime.”

Wednesday’s community partner reception included a presentation from CBL Intern, Rachel Greenberg ’15 expressing gratitude to community partners for the ways in which she has been impacted by community engagement and CBL during her time at Holy Cross.  Within her speech Rachel made the following particularly powerful comments, “I’ve learned that academic and personal growth often develop in positive feedback loops. As my academic objectives pushed me into the community, the community’s willingness to not just receive me but to teach me changed my personal perspective on social justice and community engagement. This new perspective then inspired a sense of urgency in my academic pursuits that continues to motivate me in questioning the ways inequality is constructed in society.  So, if I can speak for my fellow Community-Based Learning students and Interns…I’d like to say thank you to the community partners who warmly and generously open up their doors for us. Thank you for taking the time to engage with us in such deep and inspiring ways. The impact you have on our lives stretches far beyond the four-year window of our time here at Holy Cross.”

At that same event, we honored Professor Mary Hobgood for her many years of teaching CBL courses and challenging students to think more critically about the ways in which our world marginalizes so many of our fellow human beings.  Isabelle Jenkins offered her reflections on how taking Mary’s class impacted her life trajectory in making the following remarks:  “Professor Hobgood reminded us, and continues to remind us through her scholarship, that the why is a critical component in addressing the systemic issues that we all tirelessly work to address. We all do this work because we desperately want to see the world as it should be. But Professor Hobgood, and her powerful voice, teaches us that in order to actually see our dream world come to be, we must also get at the root causes of why the world is the way it is right at this very moment. Why the world marginalizes more people than it brings to the center. Why the world shuts out the majority of its citizens. Why the world silences the voices that we most desperately need to hear…Professor Hobgood’s course was probably the hardest course I took here at Holy Cross, even harder than Organic Chemistry. This is because Professor Hobgood wasn’t afraid to make me and my fellow students uncomfortable. She wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries, to name the unnameable, to unveil the elephant in the room and force it to cry out. Professor Hobgood made me want to work harder, to read more, to write more, to use my voice in ways I had never used it before. She encouraged me to take on the world in an entirely new way: not only with my hands and my heart, but also with my head. She lit a fire under me that has yet to go out, that only yearns for oxygen to spread and to grow…I am positive that Professor Hobgood and her work has not only been an incredible gift to me, but to this campus, to the students who go out into the Worcester community week after week ripe with not only fantastic energy to serve, but also armed with that tiny but great question of ‘Why?'”

 

 

 

Preparing for the Future

Do you want a job out of college? I sure do. If, like me, you want a job, here is my recommendation: DO MORE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT WORK!!

So you think I’m crazy? I get it. You should really be studying marketing or finance in some dark, dreary corner of the library in your free time so you can nail all those technical questions in an interview then go make bank over the summer. Not quite…

Step into the shoes of a recruiter for a second. You get a ton of applicants every day and your job is to find diverse thinkers who can add value to your company. 95% of the applications you receive probably have the same story: I am a *something career-oriented* major who spends my free time doing *something career-oriented*. How boring.

Then you come across someone who actually does something different. Instead of spending their time pursuing personal gain, they spend time in the community pursuing social change. So what are the takeaways?

  1. This person is a team player. This candidate obviously cares more about the greater good and isn’t afraid to take the path less traveled by.
  2. I have a problem-solver here. Our candidate sees a social problem and actively pursues its resolution. Companies can always use problem solvers.
  3. The candidate applies their education outside of the classroom. The difficulties of community engagement cause people to ADAPT, APPLY THEIR CLASSROOM LESSONS, AND OVERCOME CHALLENGES. If we get one thing out of college, we should learn HOW TO THINK. Anybody can learn how to memorize. I would rather hire a thinker.

While personal gain is NOT the reason to pursue community engagement, I am quite tired of hearing people say that they do not have time for service because of the competitive job market. I am not saying you shouldn’t study for technical interview questions and maintain a job focus, but never let the fear of the future get in the way of giving back.

Whether they know it or not, all college students have been given the incredible gift of education and most people around the world would give anything to be in their position. So pay it back and, BONUS, you might just get a sweet job out of college because of it.

 

–Jacob Medina, ’16

Non-Profit Careers Conference Reflections

I heard that the Non-Profit Careers Conference (NPCC) is worth the early return to campus, so as I senior, I finally took the plunge and signed up. As a Community-Based Learning (CBL) Intern, I thought that even if I did not have a great time, at least I could have the experience to share with my fellow Interns and CBL participants. I packed whatever business-casual clothes I could find and headed back to Mount St. James a little more than a week before my final semester of classes would begin. I am not kidding when I say that by the end of the conference, I was texting my roommates and telling everyone who asked me about it that it was by far one of my best Holy Cross experiences yet and that everyone should try to participate in it at some point during their four years here.

I am not a person who typically has so many positive things to say about experiences like this one. I am super picky and judgmental, so the fact that I loved every moment of the NPCC should be a testament to how incredibly organized and insightful it was. The participants, presenters, non-profit organizations, and conference organizers are some of the most generous, insightful, and down-right fun people that I’ve come across in my three-and-a-half years here in Worcester. The thought-provoking conversations, reflections, and spiritual insights gave me the boost that I needed to finally narrow down what should come next for me.

As a Deaf Studies and Psychology major, I’ve been struggling with my parents’ decision that I should either be an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter or a teacher of the Deaf. As someone who prefers being the speaker instead of the conveyer of information, and as someone who definitely does not want to teach (sorry, Mom!), these two paths do not fit my personality or my goals, at least at this moment in my life. At some point in the next few years will I consider them again? Absolutely. However, right now I need to make decisions for this upcoming year. That’s where the NPCC comes in.

After a week at the NPCC, some serious research, and a lot of reflection on my past internship and work experiences, I realized that I had never given any thought to public policy. How did I come to realize this? Well, anyone can do non-profit work, so I’ve learned. I thought you had to fit a certain mold and have a certain degree. I was wrong. Anyone can work in the non-profit sector, as long as they have a skill and a passion for helping others. Accountants, tech experts, data analysts, public relation coordinators, etc. all have a place in non-profit work. I didn’t know this prior to attending the conference.

Learning about the inclusivity of non-profit work made me realize that being involved in the Deaf community involves the same idea – as long as I am passionate about the cause, I can bring whatever skills I have and use them to help others. There is no specific mold or certain type of person necessary to create good, useful work. We are all capable.

I’ve performed two years of research relating to Deaf education and educational policy. My capstone for my major focused on the social implications of Deaf ASL users in mainstream schools. I always thought that this meant that my only path was to be a teacher, but now I’m realizing that there are more ways to be involved in Deaf education and the lives of Deaf students without being at the front of the classroom.

I’m not saying that if you go to the NPCC, you’ll then know exactly what your life’s work should be. I’m saying that your mind will be open to new possibilities, new opportunities, and most importantly, new ways of thinking that will change the way you approach the dreaded question: What are you doing after Holy Cross? So, if you’re a scared freshman, sophomore, or junior (sorry seniors, you’re toast!*), consider the NPCC as a great way to start the process of discernment as you consider your options for post-grad life. Whether it is a year of service, graduate school, or working in the trenches, you will find the way.

 

*You’re not toast. Far from it. Stop by the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning in Fenwick 321 and 322 and ask to talk to Michelle Sterk Barrett or Isabelle Jenkins. Or go to Career Planning and ask to talk to Maura Sweeney or Megan Chester. I can practically guarantee you that a conversation with them will quell your worries. It did for me.

Reflections on the Non-Profit Careers Conference by Emily Breakell

Put simply, the Non-Profit Careers Conference (NPCC) exceeded my expectations and was a productive way to spend part of winter break. Every speaker and contributor to the conference demonstrated an outstanding passion and interest in their work, which is truly amazing and comforting to see as a student considering what a fulfilling post-grad life might look like.

I was specifically interested in community organizing and political engagement, and hearing directly from a community organizer exactly what it is like to work with and advocate for others on the local level was fascinating and reinforced my interest in the relationship between non-profits and politics. Although I am in just my second year of college, the NPCC gave me a lot of insight into the benefits and challenges of working in the non-profit sector and into the diversity of opportunities available.

I have a lot to consider moving forward, but arguably the most important experience that NPCC provided me with will help me as I make important decisions: the awesome privilege of making connections with a number of students and faculty that are deeply invested in leading mission-driven, meaningful lives. It was truly outstanding to meet other Holy Cross students who engage in the community in such important and influential ways and who are considering futures that will be marked by a certain capacity for empathy.

I am impressed by the work of the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning in continuing to challenge students like me to lead lives conscious of the needs of others, and I am extremely grateful that I could attend such a well-planned, productive, and inspiring conference.

It’s Okay to Be Selfish Sometimes

Holy Cross has some of the most motivated students around.  One of the great things about our motivation is how it reaches beyond our academic lives and into the Worcester community.  With over 96% of students having participated in some sort of service program before graduation, it’s safe to say Holy Cross  places great emphasis on serving the community.

Many students don’t realize that this service is a two-way street.  Other students do realize this mutual benefit and struggle to unpack the complications of selfishness in “charity.”  Well, I think it’s okay to be selfish sometimes.  Before you’re too off-put by this statement, hear me out.  I know we live in a culture that tends to look down upon selfishness.  And generally, selfishness is something that deserves to be looked down upon.  But when it comes to service, it’s hard to escape the fact that we can leave feeling that we’ve gotten more out of it than we’ve put in (oftentimes because this is the case).

I think it’s okay to embrace this dynamic for all its inescapability.  On a personal note, I grew up in an environment that completely sheltered me from many of the injustices I’ve learned about through my community engagement.  Although the mark I’ve left on the Worcester community is small in its reach, the mark Worcester has left on me will influence all my pursuits as I look to the future.

Social justice is something I rarely gave serious consideration before I came to Holy Cross.  But after three years of involvement in my community, social justice has become integral to my plans for after graduation.  After seeing the “gritty reality of the world,” I can’t help but feel convicted to use my opportunities and privileges toward positive change–even if it’s a small one.

So, I have to wonder if embracing the selfish aspects of service means becoming aware of the world in a way that was never possible before, then what do you have to lose?

 

–Rachel Greenberg ’15

CBL Spotlight: Kristen from Ascentria Care Alliance

In the spring semester of my freshman year, I began working at a new CBL site, where I first met Kristen, the Community Coordinator and Case Manager of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program at Ascentria Care Alliance. From the very first tutoring session, I was struck by Kristen’s sincerity, unwavering positivity, leadership skills and effortless ability to connect with the clients.

Over the course of the semester, I also grew to admire Kristen for her humility, evident in the fact that she would repeatedly apologize for her “broken Spanish,” although her language skills were nearly impeccable. Week after week, Kristen took a “quiet” leadership approach when conducting group lessons or discussions, always making an effort to listen to the concerns of Holy Cross students and the clients. She worked tirelessly to create a welcoming and enjoyable environment at our sessions, making sure that both Holy Cross students and the clients felt comfortable around one another. Because of her exceptional approachability, I immediately felt less anxious in this new environment.

It was obvious that she was a “pro” at working with these vulnerable immigrant teens, who had just arrived alone in a foreign country, sometimes without any family or friends. Her friendly and calm demeanor made her a natural for the field, as the youth always sought out her advice and help when they felt frustrated or had a bad day at school. Likewise, Kristen was the first person who the clients would speak to about their various accomplishments, like receiving a good grade or winning their soccer game.

In watching Kristen skillfully navigate the highs and lows of working with such a vulnerable group of kids, I was inspired to become more deeply involved in service work. Kristen’s commitment to the clients and passion for serving everyone made me realize the importance of serving others and taking the time to get to know these clients. In having the opportunity to work alongside Kristen at my CBL site, I am beginning to understand the importance of fostering kinship and becoming a woman with others. In learning more about Kristen’s background and in working with her over this past year, I have come to realize that she truly embodies God’s idea of a community, where “no one is standing outside [God’s circle of compassion]” (Boyle, 190).

After working with Kristen for several months now, it was a humbling experience to learn more about how her faith has given her the strength to engage in service every day. Her story is particularly relatable to young individuals, including myself, who struggle to understand why cruel inequities exist in the world. It is fortunate that good-hearted people like Kristen live in our society, as she has bravely committed herself to tackle the messy injustices that most people try to ignore. Her honesty, humility and generosity are inspiring and refreshing, as these qualities are rare in our fairly individualistic and materialistic society.

In my opinion, Kristen embodies God’s ideal vision for humanity, as she hasn’t “forgotten that we belong to one another,” as Mother Teresa said (Boyle, 187). Kristen’s unwavering commitment and passion for service work over the years is a testament to her exceptional character, as she could have easily succumbed to the stress of the job. Overall, Kristen is inspiring, as she has empowered the most powerless population and has courageously accepted God’s call to service. It is clear that Kristen has discovered her God-given vocation and has lived out the mission mentioned in her favorite quote by Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

–Shea ’17

Marshall Memorial Fund Recipients

Congratulations to our Fall 2014 Marshall Memorial Fund Grant Recipients:

• Sarah Curran and Alexander Pagan-Mejia were awarded funds to purchase supplies in order to create Thanksgiving baskets for families of the Nativity School of Worcester.

• Naomi-Ann Gaspard and Jessica Rodriguez were awarded funds to coordinate a college visit for the members of Girl’s CHOICE.

• Anthony Criscitiello and Mary Patrice Hamilton were awarded funds to establish a honeybee hive on campus for educational and research purposes.

• Rebecca Sewell was awarded funds to purchase supplies for the Girls, Inc. “College Shower.” The “College Shower” is an event that celebrates the life transition of students beginning college.

• Kristen Paadre and Abbey Wilkman were awarded funds to purchase thank you gifts from the Holy Cross bookstore for eight middle school girls participating in an educational research project at St. Peter Central Catholic School.

• Professor Bridget Franco was awarded funds to support the purchase of supplies and refreshments for her Spanish 305 CBL site visits with the Latino Elders Program and the “Third Day” Program at St. Peter’s Assumption Center.

• Andrea Gendron was awarded funds to purchase supplies for activities with the WPS Transition Program and the WPS Deafblind/Low Vision/Blind Department.

Personal Connection through CBL

Every fall for the past three years, I have helped high school students write their college essays as my CBL site. When I started working for this program, I had the mindset that most Holy Cross students have while doing community service – I thought that I was going to make a huge impact on all of their lives. I was wrong. I know this sounds cheesy, but the students have taught me so much more about life and what’s important than I can even begin to teach them.

Before working with these students I thought I was a strong person who could overcome any challenge that may get in my way. However, I have never really been in a position yet, especially during my childhood, that I needed to deal with a very difficult situation. In the course of my time at this CBL site, I’ve read about 60 college essays, and every single one of them has proven to me what true strength is.

I have worked with a student who lived in a one-room shack in India with 10 people and no running water. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting two students who came to the U.S. from Iraq during the war. I’ve gotten to know a student who has struggled to tell his family that he is gay. I’ve worked with a student who was homeless for three years. I’ve talked at length with a student who lived in a Refugee camp in Nepal. And those are only a few examples of the amazing people I have worked with over the years at my site. Despite these incredible challenges, all of them are so determined to rise above their difficult situations and make better lives for themselves through education.

I have found that the key to CBL is being open to really getting to know the population you are interacting with on a weekly basis. The more that I’ve learned about the students on a personal level, the more I’ve been able to critically look at myself and think about how I want to live my own life.

 

Kristen Kelley, ’15