Congratulations to the Lynch School of Education at Boston College for being rewarded a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation! This grant will “engage low-income high school students in a science and emerging agricultural technology project, designed to guide them in conducting scientific research and prepare them for post-secondary scientific study.” This project, called the “Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers,” will involve 30 Boston public school students from populations that are underrepresented in science.
This project will help prepare students for post-secondary education and will give them the opportunity to fulfill future career aspirations. Lynch School Professor of Science Education, Michael Barnett, notes “This program will build on the capacity of our youth participants to make potential scientific discoveries, as well as develop youth leaders who will become role models in their community through mentorship.”
During the month of April, Briar Cliff University showed their support for those affected by sexual assault by hosting a variety of events throughout the month. Since the reportings of high instances of sexual assault in the media, the University decided to take stand during Sexual Assault Awareness month. Studies have found that over 50% of female college students have experienced sexual harassment or assault at some point in their lives. Given this statistic it is important that universities show their support for their students.
Events throughout the month were sponsored by the Health and Counseling Center, C.H.O.I.C.E.S., and Catholic Daughters of America. A series of events were hosted including a free self-defense class. During the class, a jiu jitsu instructor, focused on situational awareness and safety techniques as well as moves on how to escape situations and feel confident in their abilities.
To read more about how Briar Cliff honored sexual assault month, visit Briar Cliff news.
Caldwell University graduate students are using creative ways to combine academics and service. Graduate art therapy students “helped empower men and women with vision loss in the art-making process at a day of service.” The University partnered with the Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey and led clients by making mandalas using a variety of materials and objects.
Students noted that “it was an incredible experience to see the art therapy process done almost solely by feel, by how the clients felt when they grabbed materials, or how the materials were described and communicated.” The experience spoke to the multi-sensory quality of art materials and art making. Students also noted that since “many of the clients had not participated in artwork for years and doubted their abilities, it was particularly empowering for them to realize what they could do.”
Saint Peter’s University is using their voice to speak out against the issue of domestic violence. The Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at Saint Peter’s recently hosted an empowerment forum, “Women Standing Against Domestic Violence.” During a time when women are speaking out about violence and sexual harassment, Saint Peter’s is adding to the conversation by having a discussion on the effects of domestic violence and what different organizations are doing to support women in these vulnerable situations.
The panel began with a presentation of some startling statistics to get the conversation going. It was noted that “every nine seconds a women is beaten or assaulted; one in four women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes; three women are murdered in the U.S. every day by a current or former male partner.” These statistics set the scene as various women told their stories of domestic violence. They shared the struggle and pain they endured while at the same time still loving their partner. The cycle of abuse is a difficult one to break and these women came out of their situations stronger than before.
There was then a panel discussion featuring various leaders of organizations that all seek to support women and families in vulnerable situations. For example, WomenRising is an organization in Jersey City that “supports women and families from crisis to self-sufficiency by providing domestic violence services, permanent housing, workforce development, and several others necessary services. “Women Standing Against Domestic Violence” was an event that helped build awareness of domestic violence and empowered those to spread the word and support these women.
To read more about “Women Standing Against Domestic Violence,” visit Saint Peter’s news.
Rivier University’s Project Archive continues to find success since the program was first developed in 2014. Project Achieve is a “program designed to increase diversity in the nursing workforce that offers underrepresented student groups with opportunities to expand their understanding of nursing careers and to hone study strategies that lead to academic success.” Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, Rivier’s President, noted that “national data shows that underrepresented students benefit significantly through a pre-orientation to the academic environment.” The results and students of Project Achieve reflect this data. Underrepresented nursing students enrolled in their final year of the RN-BS program throughout the 2015 and 2017 produced a 100% passing rate of the NCLEX-RN. Of the seventeen participating students in 2017 Project Achieve, seven languages are spoken and five continents are represented.
Project Achieve accomplishes their goals by offering first-year students the opportunity to participate in a summer enrichment program that focuses on the study of anatomy and physiology, nursing professionalism, cultural development, research skills, and an orientation to clinical expectations. In addition, students enrolled in Project Achieve take part in team building and “collective problem-solving activities to strengthen their confidence, expand their skills, and ease their transition to university life.” Rivier University strives to equip all students with the necessary tools to succeed academically, mentally and spiritually, as demonstrated by Project Achieve.
To hear more about Project Achieve, visit Rivier news.
Catholic colleges and universities strive to form students, staff, and faculty as leaders who are dedicated to serving their neighbors and working together to promote the common good. In Ex corde Ecclesiae, Pope St. John Paul II writes that one of the four “essential characteristics” of a Catholic university is that it has “an institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family.” Catholic higher education has made a commitment to serving the community both locally and internationally: In 2013, 50 percent of ACCU member institutions were named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, highlighting these campuses as having “[achieved] meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve.” These campuses are recognized as pursuing a meaningful institutional commitment to serving their neighbors. To put this in perspective, this means that over 100 Catholic colleges and universities were recognized for service to their local communities.
Catholic Social Teaching and Youth Mentorship
Such achievements answer a call for Catholic institutions to serve the human family, with a special emphasis on service to the poor. In its pastoral letter “Economic Justice for All,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) writes, “The prime purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. […] It states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community.” Both domestically and internationally, youth can be the most deprived and powerless members of any given community. As such, students at numerous Catholic colleges and universities strive to work for the common good and serve the community through programs that focus on youth mentorship and education.
Youth Mentorship in Catholic Higher Education
Ursuline College in Ohio is an outstanding example of a successful youth mentorship program. ARROWS (Academic Readiness Requires Outstanding Work and Support) “intends to provide Ursuline College students an opportunity to mentor [local] high school students,” the College explains in a news article, “while offering the high school students support through the completion of high school, and encouragement to pursue postsecondary education.” As Ursuline is an all-female college, the coordinators of ARROWS decided to offer the program exclusively to local high school girls. The effect on both mentees and mentors is profound.
Ursuline College student mentor Eadaoin Cronin highlights the meaning of the program to both the mentees and the mentors, saying “It’s great how we are paired up with a Warrensville Heights [student] and we get to see them develop into successful young women. We meet with the students around six times per year. During each visit, we talk with our mentees and we monitor their progress.” Cronin added, “The mentors and mentees set goals at the beginning of the year and it’s extremely satisfying when the students reach those goals. …Many of the mentees aspire to attend college and it is our duty to help them achieve this milestone.”
ARROWS clearly fosters a culture of encounter among both Ursuline students and Warrensville Heights students.Through the process of working with the Ursuline students, the mentees learn to take control of their education and thus are empowered to achieve their personal, academic, and career goals. To both cohorts, the program offers an avenue to grow and develop academically, spiritually, and personally.
Another example of an exceptional youth mentorship program is Fun, Fit, Fridays at Barry University in Miami, Florida, geared toward local elementary school students. Located a quarter-mile from the Barry University campus, Hubert O. Sibley Elementary School has been participating in Fun, Fit, Fridays since 2009.
According to Andy Havens, the director of Fun, Fit, Fridays and intramural coordinator for the Barry University Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness, the Sibley Elementary School mentees are nominated by their teachers as students who could benefit from mentoring, and are often students with academic or behavioral challenges. These students then spend their Friday afternoons in character-building lessons, physical education activities, creative expression through fine and performing arts, campus tours, homework help, and more, all led by Barry students, staff, and faculty. At the end of each session, the participants take time to reflect on that day’s experience through journaling and sharing their experiences with their parents and guardians.
Dr. Darlene Kluka, dean of Barry University’s School of Performance and Leisure Sciences, shared how Fun, Fit, Fridays is an example of how the university’s mission is lived: “We believe at Barry that learning leads to knowledge and truth, and that reflection leads to informed action. …We also have a commitment to social justice, and that leads to collaborative service.”
In addition to these four ideals – knowledge, truth, social justice, and collaborative service – Kluka included “inclusive community” to round out Barry’s five “core commitments.” Fun, Fit, Fridays has developed into a program that comprises each of these five commitments. By assisting participants with academics and etiquette, the program seeks to foster in Sibley students a thirst for knowledge and truth. Havens and Kluka hope this will inspire Barry University students to learn how to more effectively participate in their communities by staying abreast of and involved in current and future social justice and service initiatives. In this way, the dean added, Fun, Fit, Fridays looks to create “opportunities for us to be doing God’s work,” by living out the call to work for the common good of the community.
ARROWS and Fun, Fit, Fridays demonstrate how Catholic higher education serves the youth of local communities. ARROWS seeks to empower young women through academic preparedness and support for entering higher education. Fun, Fit, Fridays provides an opportunity for students to combine their love of sport with their love for their neighbors through education and companionship. By living the call to create a culture of encounter and solidarity between youth and young adults, as well as building a stronger local community, Ursuline College and Barry University exemplify the institutional commitment of Catholic higher education to serve their neighbors.
Justine Worden is an undergraduate student at Georgetown University and the Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
With goals rooted in Catholic Social Teaching, the Center for Community Engagement at Saint Thomas University (FL) aims to empower communities, enhance academic learning, and encourage spiritual and civic growth. The center supports faculty and student projects developed to offer concrete solutions to problems facing the poor and marginalized in the local, regional, and international communities. Programs range from psychology faculty and students partnering with inner-city organizations to address truancy and youth violence in Miami, to business students working with coffee growers in Haiti to export their beans directly to the United States. View the Center’s brochure or watch their YouTube video for more information.
This post concludes our Courageous Voices series, short stories about how students, faculty, and staff are responding to Pope Francis’s call to social justice and a culture of encounter. If you are still curious about how Catholic colleges and universities are promoting social justice on campus, read the original blog post on the Courageous Voices series, or check out ACCU’s inventory of promising practices, which includes many examples of our members engaging with Catholic Social Teaching.
Students in Manhattan College‘s “Engaging, Educating, Empowering Means Change” course meet for class at Rikers Island jail complex, with an equal number of prisoners enrolled in the course as their classmates. The primary goal is to correct the common perception that people who live in poverty, especially those with a criminal record, are unworthy of the social privileges that the college’s students enjoy. The course gives an opportunity for the students from Manhattan College and Rikers Island to build relationships with one another, challenging common assumptions and stereotypes about those who live on the margins of society. Upon their release, the formerly incarcerated students have an opportunity to attend the college. Administrators have noted that when the two groups of students reunite on campus, they tend to look out for one another – and both become advocates for reform of the prison system.
To learn more about the course, read the article “The Prison Class” in America.
Over the next few weeks, we will release short stories about the courageous voices of our member colleges and universities. Stay tuned to hear about how students, faculty, and staff are responding to Pope Francis’s call to social justice and a culture of encounter. If you are still curious about how Catholic colleges and universities are promoting social justice on campus, read the original blog post on the Courageous Voices series, or check out ACCU’s inventory of promising practices, which includes many examples of our members engaging with Catholic Social Teaching.