Something that has really resonated with me since arriving in Pittsburgh, but particularly this summer, is how deeply people care for the Pittsburgh community. Community members constantly strive to work toward a happy, healthy, and equitable Pittsburgh. Meeting so many people engaged in local communities has been one of the most valuable experiences of this research fellowship.
Through this project, I worked alongside the other members of the Community Research Fellowship, many of whom were studying projects vastly different from my own. While it can be difficult to understand the nuances of an unfamiliar field, hearing about these topics exposed me to so many new areas that are critical elements of the Pittsburgh community. From data science to August Wilson to food justice research and beyond, I was able to learn about key figures and issues in Pittsburgh.
I also worked with members of the Justice Scholars team several times throughout each week to hold critical discussions or work through obstacles in our research. We talked a lot about our experiences in education and important issues facing Pittsburgh Public Schools. This collaboration was really valuable in developing a deeper understanding of educational inequity and community engaged-partnership.
The collaborative aspect of the project also presented some challenges– coordination among so many people can sometimes become difficult to manage with everyone’s independent schedules. That said, the benefits of having so many perspectives and ideas from this collaboration greatly outweighed those challenges.
Of course, educational inequity remains a challenge, particularly in Pittsburgh Public Schools. There is still a lot to explore in the field of community-university partnerships, and I’m hoping to remain engaged in the field. While I’m not sure what this collaboration will look like during the upcoming academic year, I know that the Justice Scholars Institute will be continuing to support students in their paths to success. With JSI expanding into two more local schools, their reach will extend to even more students. I’m also looking forward to seeing the continued work of A+ Schools and the Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative in policy and advocacy spaces.
I would like to extend a thank you to everyone who played a role in this project and supported me throughout this process in so many different forms:
- Ms. Stacie Dow and Dr. Everett Herman, Community Research Fellowship Instructors and Mentors
- Dr. Esohe Osai and Dr. Shanyce Campbell, Faculty Mentors
- Dr. Kaitlyn Brennan, Community Partner Representative and Mentor
- Mr. James Greer. JSI Program Coordinator
- Professor Mark Kramer, Seminar in Composition: Service Learning Professor
- Magdalena Mendez and Hosea Wah, Fellow JSI Undergraduate Research Assistants
- The 2021 Community Research Fellowship Cohort
I have learned so much this summer, and I’m excited to carry this experience with me throughout my future academic and professional endeavors. I’m so grateful to have had the privilege to work alongside an amazing group of students and mentors, and I’m looking forward to the future of this project, as well as the other meaningful projects conducted by the other students in the CRF cohort!