Sarah Wooton ’15 and Emily Hawkins ’15 are working with the Young Scholars Liberty Partnership Program this summer as Field School Fellows. The Partnership is a collaborative project between Utica College and the Utica City School District that aims to motivate elementary and high school students to stay in school, earn their New York State Advanced Regents diploma, and pursue post-secondary education.
Emily and Sarah are continuing to develop the Young Scholars webpage and are working to build networks of Young Scholars alumni by using various social media sites like LinkedIn. By doing so, they hope to connect students with those who have participated in the Young Scholars program in the past, and to facilitate a continued connection and commitment to the program for alumni. They are also looking for potential sources of funding for Young Scholars through foundations and grant making organizations. Because the program has recently lost a large source of funding, YSLPP has had to look to other avenues to make up the difference, which requires much more time to research available grants than the staff can devote.
Both of these projects will contribute to continued growth of the program. Young Scholars has a significant reach in the Utica City School District, helping to ensure the academic and personal success of over 300 students in any given year. There are always more students who would benefit from participation in the program, so Emily and Sarah are working to build alumni awareness of and commitment to the program in the hopes that it will strengthen and increase YSLPP’s capacity for service in the Utica community.
While Sarah is an Education Studies major and Emily is a Peace and Conflict Studies major, they both have an academic interest in social justice. This fellowship is giving them the opportunity to witness and participate in social justice work on the ground. “At its core,” says Emily, “YSLPP is a community project with roots in student advocacy, attempting to close the achievement gap.” Sarah adds that, “it has a been a privilege to see such passionate social justice work in our community.”