My name is Sydney Kelley, and I am a rising sophomore studying Economics and Political Science with a minor in Chinese and a certificate in Global Health! I consider my hometown to be Ellicott City, Maryland, but I’ve also lived in Florida, Germany, and Texas! These past two semesters, I lived on Pitt’s campus in the Honors LLC. I loved being able to explore the city and all that Pitt had to offer! I’ve really enjoyed getting involved on campus this year through various clubs and organizations including Mock Trial, Women in Economics, and Phi Alpha Delta (Pre-Law Fraternity). In my free time, I enjoy hiking, cooking, and listening to Taylor Swift’s Folklore album on repeat.
This summer, I will be working on the Community Research Fellowship in partnership with the Justice Scholars Institute and A+ Schools under the guidance of Dr. Esohe Osai of the School of Education. The Justice Scholars Institute is a college preparatory organization within the University of Pittsburgh School of Education that works with high school students to promote educational equity by offering tutoring, application help, and college tours. I began working with Justice Scholars over this spring semester through the ENGCMP 0208: Seminar in Composition – Service Learning Course. Many of our conversations, both in Justice Scholars and Seminar in Composition, centered around how volunteers can approach civic engagement with an informed, equitable lens that benefits the partner organization and students. We also discussed the consequences of inadvertently harmful community service and how to avoid that. Through this dialogue, I began to wonder what other techniques volunteers and organizations can adopt to develop effective civic engagement. The relationship between educational institutions and communities can be delicate, but fostering this partnership is critical and mutually beneficial.
This led me to my research project, which will focus on how institutions can develop meaningful relationships with the community. Promoting meaningful civic engagement is important in institutions working with communities, and can help to mitigate the feelings of doubt or fear that communities feel of a university. On a personal level, I’m someone who loves getting involved in the community, and I want to make sure I’m doing so in a way that’s enriching for all parties.
To do this research, I will be reviewing literature, conducting interviews, and developing surveys with the Justice Scholars Institute. While I have conducted interviews for research before, I typically inquired about professional expertise as opposed to personal experiences. In this project, I will be interviewing alumni of the Justice Scholars program. I’m looking forward to learning from individuals on a personal level to further understand this research topic.
In the future, I hope to attend law school and become an attorney. Although I’m not sure of what field of law I’d like to pursue, I’m excited to apply the skills and knowledge I cultivate from this program to promote equity and civic engagement in the legal field.
I’m so excited to work with the Justice Scholars Institute, A+ Schools, Dr. Osai, and the Community Research Fellowship cohort and mentors this summer to expand my understanding of both civic engagement and research!