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DC Social Justice Fellowship
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Bridgette Boody

Major: Political Science and Women's Studies
Minor: Spanish
Hometown: Middletown, Delaware

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about this opportunity through a listserv e-mail from the LGBTQ Student Resource Center. I got an e-mail that included the information and flyer about this opportunity as something to apply to if interested.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

For this fellowship, the spring semester consisted of meeting twice a week after spring break for a class that acted as a crash course in social justice topics and living in D.C., as well as learning how to teach, craft lessons, manage classrooms. The course itself was fun, with a lot of the learning coming from doing, i.e. in order to learn about discovery-based learning, we had to engage in it ourselves. It was great to be able to meet the people we would be working with in the spring before going to D.C in May.

Fellows were separated into five different broad topics: Race, Ability, Gender, Socioeconomic Status, and Criminal Justice. Each topic had two to three fellows assigned to it, and you crafted your lesson around smaller topics that related to the broad topic. Being in a group made getting into the classroom less intimidating, and it also helped to bounce ideas for lessons off each other. During the D.C practicum experience in Washington, D.C, we each led three lessons over the course of two weeks, with the other two fellows and a mentor in the classroom for support. We also had the experience to travel to another school and observe one of our peers teaching. Living and teaching in D.C, and having the opportunity to network with people from Georgetown Law, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, etc. really helped me hone networking and professional skills.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I learned so much about myself- from learning to live on my own to navigating a metro system and foreign city- and an incredible amount about what it means to teach.

I do not say this lightly when I say that this experience changed my life. I learned so much about myself- from learning to live on my own to navigating a metro system and foreign city- and an incredible amount about what it means to teach, and the students that I was paired with. My students challenged my perceptions of what it meant to be an inner-city student, and the school challenged television portrayals of inner city schools. The students were polite, engaged, and really cared about their families and their futures. They were able to take a lesson about gentrification or the school to prison pipeline and apply it to what they saw in their everyday lives. In working in a classroom, I learned how to take things that I had learned in my own classrooms as a student and break it down to help high school students discover the concept themselves.

Additionally, the workshops and mentor meeting component of this program helped to facilitate conversation, foster critical thinking, and network with people who could potentially help me land internships or even full-time jobs. Each night, we participated in sessions with law professors, high school teachers, and government officials who lived and worked in D.C. Hearing about their experiences and challenging my own was eye-opening, and I really enjoyed the different perspectives I was able to hear through this experience.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

After graduation, I am planning on applying to some teaching abroad opportunities, as well as the Peace Corps. Ultimately, I would like to work for the United States Department of Education or for a think tank as a policy analyst. Prior to this experience, I knew I wanted to work in education policy but never thought I could be a teacher. The fellowship took a group of students, not all of whom were education majors, and taught them that they could teach. Having a brief experience in an inner city school solidified my desire to work in the education sector in some capacity, and gave me a taste of the experience "on the ground," so to speak. It pushed me to definitively apply to teaching abroad programs, and it gave me necessary experience.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would absolutely recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts student-- in fact, I would recommend it to any student. At college, we can sometimes find our niche and stick with it. The experience flipped that on its head. The people I met were people I would not normally get to meet, and the experience challenged me to grow personally. Furthermore, it provided great networking opportunities and the opportunity to speak with individuals who were working in fields I may be interested in. Finally, with all the growth and learning, I still had an amazing time. There was so much to do and see in D.C, and I made twelve amazing friends who I will still see after the program. The D.C Social Justice Fellowship has been a highlight of my Penn State career, and I strongly recommend it to any student looking to push themselves, to learn something, and to make lifelong friends and memories.

For more information on funding for enrichment activities, visit our website.

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