Appalachian Teaching Project Introduction: Lindsey Golden

Greetings! My name is Lindsey Golden and I am a senior at Pitt. I am majoring in political science while working towards the public and professional writing certificate and double minoring in religious studies and history. I am very involved with Jewish life on campus and frequently attend Challah for Hunger and Shabbat dinners. Also, I am currently a member of Phi Alpha Delta – the largest pre-law organization on Pitt’s campus. With the remainder of my free time, I walk dogs part-time to be around animals and for some exercise. One of my favorite things to do when I am home is foster dogs. Since my dog passed away in July 2020, I have been volunteering for a Lancaster-based dog rescue called Home at Last. Although I can only foster when I am home in Philadelphia, I continue to assist my rescue during the school year with adoption applications. Fostering dogs has become a huge part of my life and I look forward to continuing my work with this rescue.

This semester I am taking my capstone for my political science major and was offered the opportunity to join and do research for the Appalachian Teaching Project. The ATP is an applied research training program that commits to supporting the economic development of Appalachian communities. This project is not limited to Pitt students and currently boasts 2,350 students from 22 different universities across Appalachia. Our research group will be mainly focusing on the effects of the “brain drain” on Fayette County, a small county located outside of Pittsburgh in the Appalachian region. We are tasked with researching as to why the “brain drain” is occurring in Fayette County and potentially how to reverse its effect. Ideally, our research group will be able to use our research to produce solutions to prevent outmigration from occurring in Fayette county.    

Personally, I feel as though the Appalachian Teaching Project is an important project for both students and members of the Appalachian regions in which the ATP studies. Pitt must approach the ATP as an opportunity to build a relationship with Fayette county as opposed to “saving” the county, particularly Connellsville. Our research group consists of students from a breadth of majors and minors that are excited to funnel our diverse educational background into research that would support Connellsville’s economy. I think one of the most important aspects of this project is the in-person visits our group will take to Connellsville because it will strengthen our relationships with the local community and give us a chance to understand how to come up with solutions based on our visits, not just research. I hope that one of the results of our project will be a solid relationship between the University of Pittsburgh and Fayette County for two reasons: 1) to leave the next ATP group with an already existing foundation of communication and 2) to build trust specifically within the Connellsville community that can eventually begin to expand to other parts of Fayette County.

Participating in the ATP will hopefully teach me skills that I will need in my professional career. After I graduate in the spring, I plan on taking a gap year before attending law school. Attending law school has been my dream since I was in high school, but my real professional goal (and dream job) is to eventually run for judge. After interning this summer in the Beaver County Common Pleas Courthouse, I learned that judges are very active members in their respective communities. In order to run, you must already have a certain reputation within your community. I believe that the ATP is great practice for building genuine relationships within a community, especially because the way we approach building relationships will directly affect Connellsville’s perception of Pitt. Additionally, I want to be able to present our project in a way that invites the community to participate with us while also respecting the research we will be doing. All lawyers will tell you that one of the most important aspects of being a lawyer is your reputation. I aim to build a reputation within my ATP group and the broader Connellsville community that fosters respectful communication. 

Originally, I decided to join this project because I wanted the opportunity to conduct research that would already build off of the material I am now learning in my political science capstone. My knowledge of Appalachia before the first day of class was very minimal and I am grateful to have the chance to broaden my learning in a subject that I originally considered niche but now believe to be relevant to my general studies. Also, I find the hands-on aspect of the ATP project to be an appealing attribute and see this project as a way to build new relationships both within and outside the classroom. After a year and a half of online school, I am very excited to make new connections. I have never taken an honors class before, but I am looking forward to being challenged as I take on a bigger workload for this semester and attempt to find my voice as I collaborate with my bright peers. I worked for The Pitt News for a semester and I am medium-level comfortable when it comes to conducting interviews. For the most part, the interviews I conducted were mostly email-based or over zoom so I am looking forward to interviewing the Connellsville community and honing in on my people skills. Overall, I am beyond excited to be a part of this project and cannot wait to start my research.

My first foster dog, Benji!

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