Starting the Justice Scholars Community Research Fellowship 2022

Hi! I am Megan Hanlon, a rising sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration writing my first blog post through the Community Research Fellowship. I am studying finance and marketing, and am a part of Phi Beta Lambda and Women in Business on campus. I am passionate about social justice and hope to help people throughout my life in my experiences in college, later career, and daily life. I didn’t take the traditional approach to social justice, as I want to enter the business world and use knowledge through business to help others. I am from Boston, Massachusetts and I love my home city. One unique thing about me is that my dog is named after Wall-E the robot! 

I have always been driven to work for a greater purpose, whether it be attending social justice marches/protests, volunteering, or taking classes such as “Race and Business Ethics” and “Community Engaged Research.” I differentiate myself as a business major, working through the school of education in pursuing this project, rather than a traditional business internship. I strive to approach social justice issues from a business perspective. As a business major, I have strived to pursue opportunities like this due to my desires and motivation to help others and pursue betterment of life as a whole for others, but also for my future career goals. In striving for a career that has either social justice orientation or initiatives, I hope this fellowship is the beginning of many volunteering and social justice oriented work. 

This past school year, I began volunteering through the Justice Scholars Institute (JSI). Since starting the “Community Engaged Research” honors seminar, I began studying education inequity and inequality in Pittsburgh. I was connected with the JSI program that works to improve educational opportunities for black youth and the question they focus on is: How can our university partnership with the community affect black youth in Pittsburgh? JSI does research and actively teaches a group of JSI students from Westinghouse, Perry, and Milliones. My project over the summer has changed my role from a volunteer to actively carrying out research to make change in Pittsburgh schooling. Conducting narrative-based data and gathering perceptions and experiences related to topics of college applications, personal finance and so on, will help communities better allocate resources and programs suited, as well as seek funding to promote. In addition, seeking out quantitative data of different domains will allow the issue to be pushed into the public eye, seeking greater responsibility and change in allocation of resources and attention to policy making and funding. This research will apply specifically to their personal finance curriculum in progress at JSI, as well as promote other education initiatives taking place currently. 

This is my first experience with research, however, I have begun secondary research in personal finance and studies of education in the “Community Engaged Research” honors seminar as well as my Honors +1 Project for Marketing. In marketing, I began the process of researching personal finance curriculum and implementation. This provides context to the research I hope to conduct over the summer. Over the summer, the research will differ as it will be locally and community focused. My work is strengths-based and collaborative. The work will be co-designed, co-delivered, and co-validated, as the Justice Scholars lays out as its core principles. I am excited for the opportunity to continue my work with the Justice Scholars Institute under Dr. Esohe Osai. The Justice Scholars programs and initiatives include student enrollment, implementation of courses, college seminars, out-of-school time activities, youth participatory action research, student research, as well as broadening capacity in reach. The work done so far has already been admirable and inspiring, and I was so lucky to begin my relationship with the community through their Out-of-School time after school program that promoted discussions of social justice within their community. 

So excited for what the summer holds, and to work with the Justice Scholars Institute.

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