Hello Everyone! My name is Kate Honan and I am a rising junior interning at PYRSE Academy this summer. I am a Environmental Engineering major and minoring in Chemistry and Political Science. I have been an active member of F.O.R.G.E ( Facilitating Opportunities for Refugee Growth and Empowerment). I have been tutoring a Syrian refugee family for two years and served as the publicity chair for the organization for the 2019-2020 school year. This year, I am excited to be serving as the Outlook and Advocacy chair. I am also the co-founder and host of the podcast Forgotten Voices, where we bring to light stories affecting refugees and immigrants around the world whose stories tended to get drowned out in the ever changing international news. I was a Community Assistant at the Y Creator Space, a STEM after school program for youth in Homewood, during the 2019-2020 school year and have been an active member of Scientists, Engineers, and Mathematicians for Services during my first two years at Pitt. I am from Manhattan, Illinois, a southwest suburb of Chicago, and will graduate in December 2022.
Although I have not decided on my exact career path, I am sure I would like to do something in policy that combines my passion for science and community service. As a former Chemical Engineering major, I learned that I loved science and solving problems but felt as though I was missing something. During my work as a Community Assistant through the Homewood CEC and on the Executive Board of F.O.R.G.E, I realized that something was community-oriented work. As the student representative for Pitt on the City of Pittsburgh’s steering committee for The Oakland Plan and as an intern at Langan Engineering and Environmental Services this fall, I am hoping to find a career in policy work or planning that combines both of my passions. Now more than ever it is important that government has people in it writing policy that are technically trained, which I feel there is a shortage of at the moment. I am hoping to take my background in environmental science, chemistry, and problem solving and apply it to the biggest challenges facing our society today. My ultimate professional goal is to make sure that cities and governments are doing everything in their power to make sure that their citizens are living in safe and equitable conditions.
My internship this summer is at ARYSE, working as a ESL tutor for their summer program, PRYSE Academy. PRYSE Academy is a summer program for immigrant and refugee youth grades 6-12, which creates a space for youth to achieve confidence through learning, creativity, and exploration. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, PRYSE Academy will be help virtually, and I am excited to see the new opportunities that technology can bring to this already amazing program. Although PRYSE Academy is the foundation of ARYSE, the refugee-serving organization also has an After School Club and Girls Art and Marker Group to support youth during the school year.
I am thrilled to be working for an organization such as ARYSE, which started as a collaboration between college undergrads and refugee youth when they noticed that the education system was letting them down. This program has blossomed from a group of undergrads whose experiences tutoring not only taught them about the needs of immigrant and refugee youth in Allegheny, but inspired a call of action. I am hoping that working with ARYSE this summer will give me insights on how an organization can grow from an idea to a full-out solution that does not work for youth and the community but with it, which is the most essential part of community work. This modeling will be fundamental to my understanding of how community building can succeed, which will hopefully help me in my future profession. It will be equally as inspiring to see a program that was developed by people who were in the same position of life that I am in now, as sometimes as a college student it is easy to feel stuck and useless even though we have a multitude of resources at our disposal.
In addition to the professional and academic benefit of seeing how an organization such as ARYSE operates, I will be getting to work with two groups that I am very passionate about working with: youth and refugees. Almost every summer since elementary school I have worked with kids at both sports and STEM camps. I was devastated when my local STEM camp that I had attended as a kid and volunteered with for years got canceled due to the pandemic, so I am extremely glad that PRYSE Academy is giving me an opportunity to continue to work with youth this summer. In addition, I was suppose to go to Jordan this summer to intern at a nonprofit helping refugees. As this experience was postponed to next summer, I am grateful that ARYSE is giving me a chance to still work with immigrants and refugees this summer. Finally, I have been tutoring a Syrian mother and her daughter for about two years, and I think getting the chance to help different students learn English will make me a much better teacher when I work with my family again in the fall. It will hopefully give me fresh ideas and challenge me in new ways which will make me a more effective tutor in the long run.
I am super excited to get started and mentor the refugee and immigrant youth of Allegheny county that will someday bring positive and lasting change to Pittsburgh, America, and the world.