My New Involvement With The Community Leadership Internship.

Hello everyone, my name is Mary McMahon, and I am currently a senior at Pitt majoring in Psychology and minoring in Hispanic Language and Culture as well as Chemistry. I am currently pursuing a pre-med curriculum in preparation for medical school. Some unique facts about me are that I am currently semi-fluent in Spanish, have spent a semester in Spain, and plan to spend a significant amount of time in Spain in my post-graduate year. In the summer of 2020, I had the honor of working with the Justice Scholars Institute and the Honors College through the Community Research Fellowship. My research opportunity and engagement consisted of analyzing interview data of students who have completed the Justice Scholars Program to gain insight into their experiences and program development. I also have been involved in the brainstorming of the curriculum for youth participatory action research (YPAR) for students in the program. The college preparatory program, Justice Scholars, focuses on social justice and the YPAR curriculum to engage students ultimately to create long-lasting academic and social development. I have been an active team member with the Justice Scholars Institute since my freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh (2018). Throughout my time with the program, students, team members, and community, I have learned so much about the way the program aims to enrich students’ educational prospects, enhance student’s writing skills, educate students on their educational opportunities through a social justice lens, and equip students with resources (and tools) to become their own agents of change. This fall semester I have been offered the opportunity to continue working with the program through the Community Leadership Internship. I have decided to pursue this initiative because of my belief that Community Engagement efforts must be consistent, especially when working with young adults who rely on mentors and community members to be accountable and consistent. The program has taught me far more than I could ever imagine. The ultimate goal of the team, since I have been working with the program is to constantly improve JSI initiatives for the benefit of the students and community. This goal will never change, and that is the one thing I love most about the program and one main reason I continue to support and be a part of  JSI. Although the goals of the program have remained consistent, my internship this semester looks a lot different than the Community Research Fellowship I worked on in 2020. This fall I have been working with JSI to develop events for students that focus on college-preparatory applications, workshops, and education preparation for post-secondary educational opportunism. Specifically, this fall we are planning a college day event at the Community Engagement Center in Homewood for the three Pittsburgh Public Schools (Milliones University Prep, Pittsburgh Perry High School, and Westinghouse Academy). The event will consist of financial aid education, HBCU education, college application, and additional college preparatory resources and opportunities. Parents will be invited, and students will be provided access to college students and mentors at the event and further. My current goals for the project are to help support and create an event that students are excited about and see as a stepping stone to taking the next step to applying to college and exploring post-secondary educational opportunities. Additionally, in a broader sense, I plan to make the College Day event a way to create excitement and positive attitudes about applying to college. I believe the goal of the program is to offer consistent and reliable mentorship to students. This is a goal I am always aware of when working with students in JSI. Students must have an accountable and consistent mentor in their lives at all times, but especially when they are applying and pursuing post-secondary educational opportunities. I plan to be a mentor students can count on and trust, this semester and in the future

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