My name is Magdalena Mendez and I am currently a rising Sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying Nursing. I am from Wilmington, DE and spend lots of time in Kiawah Island, South Carolina! I just transferred to Pitt this semester and have found my happy place here. At Pitt, I am a member of the sorority Chi Omega and am a Fraternity and Sorority Life Ambassador. Since 6th grade, I have participated in community service. During this past spring semester, I was able to get involved with community service through the organizations Allegheny Cleanways and the Justice Scholars Institute. Something unique about me is I am a twin!
I am very excited for this opportunity to participate in the Honors College Community Research Fellowship this summer. I became interested in this fellowship after volunteering with Justice Scholars through my English Service Learning class. I loved being a mentor for Justice Scholars and wanted to get more involved with the program. I will be working with the Justice Scholars Institute with Dr. Esohe Osai as my faculty mentor. Dr. Esohe Osai is an Assistant Professor of Practice from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education and she developed the University’s partnership to create Justice Scholars. The Justice Scholars Institute is a program run by the University of Pittsburgh that helps prepare underprivileged high school students for college and educates them about social justice issues. This organization operates around the need for equity in education around Pittsburgh and aims to bridge the educational opportunity gap that students at Westinghouse Academy and other high schools face. Currently, JSI is partnered with Westinghouse Academy and is expanding its program to A+ Schools in Pittsburgh. I will be looking at data previously collected, as well as conducting my own interviews and surveys with Justice Scholars alumni and Westinghouse Academy faculty.
I plan to explore the areas of the Justice Scholars Institute programs that are most effective and the areas that need improvement by looking at the success of the students and looking at the needs of underprivileged schools and students in Pittsburgh. This will help the Institute improve their existing programs and see what tenets of their program should be implemented or strengthened in their new partnership with A+ Schools. I also am looking forward to working on existing research that the Justice Scholars Institute is working on and discovering more about educational disparities in Pittsburgh and around the nation. It is extremely important that every student has the same chance to succeed regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, etc.
Eventually, I hope to become a Nurse Practitioner or a Nurse Anesthetist and would like to conduct medical research. My experience with research is limited to high school research papers and so I hope to significantly build my research skills during the course of this fellowship and also apply what I learn about social justice issues to my career as a nurse. I have always been very passionate about community service and am excited to take this passion to the next level and make a difference with my work with Justice Scholars.
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I can’t wait to see how this project will strengthen the Justice Scholars Institute – which is already doing such great work in the community!