My interest in social justice is deep-rooted and wide-ranging. In high school I organized students against the war in Iraq; in college I focused on sustainable food and vulnerable inner-city populations. My academic and extracurricular choices at Yale University reflect my dedication to imaging and creating a better world. As a sociology student, I have sought to understand the systemic causes, whether economic, political or social, of inequality. My senior thesis examined HOPE VI, the newest generation of public housing renewal, in light of the welfare reform zeitgeist, which I called the self-sufficiency doctrine. I conducted in-depth interviews with ten public housing residents, and came to conclusions about neighborly ties and public safety that contradicted mainstream academic and political discourse. Other field work has taken me to Mali, West Africa, where I interviewed food security experts about the 2008 World Food Crisis in light of the country’s past major famines; to Bordeaux, France, where I did participant observation at an urban garden program which trains the chronically unemployed.
In my extracurricular activities, too, I pursued my passion for social justice. I volunteered at National Student Partnerships (NSP) in New Haven, where students help vulnerable clients locate jobs, housing, government benefits and training. I translated and transcribed videos of Holocaust survivors, to ensure that such stories are permanently recorded and remembered. I worked as a volunteer and an employee for sustainable agriculture and ethical eating.
As a tutor for Yale Reading Corps, I tutored failing second-graders at a local school to bring them up to grade-level literacy. In the summer of 2007 I had the most formative work experience of my life, as an intern for New Haven nonprofit CitySeed. I received a summer fellowship from Yale Dwight Hall to support CitySeed’s efforts to make locally-grown food more affordable and accessible in the city of New Haven. I managed an independent project creating promotional materials for Food Stamp and WIC recipients across the state, while juggling various other responsibilities around the office, writing weekly newsletters, phone-banking to recruit partner farms and tabling at farmers’ markets. This internship with a growing grassroots organization reaffirmed my dedication to working in the nonprofit sector. It was inspiring to be surrounded by colleagues committed to environmental sustainability, economic justice, and health equality.
An AmeriCorps fellowship is an ideal opportunity for a college graduate to explore the non-profit sector and begin a career of public service. I hope to spend the next year amongst professionals dedicated to creating a better world. I would like to help improve individual lives, while also working towards systemic sustainability and justice.
Why Do I Volunteer
My most moving volunteer experience was working with underprivileged residents of New Haven through National Student Partnerships (NSP), which links college students to people in need. I helped people research jobs online, write resumes, and locate appropriate social services. NSP volunteers were always friendly, respectful and attentive, and clients often told us how much they appreciated our attitude. Although I had to give up NSP volunteering in order to take a work-study job, I always chose jobs that in some way served the community.
Originally posted on the Hard Hatted Women website