Reason #12 You Should Visit
Beautiful gardens on campus
Class of 2022
How are you involved with the Jandon Center?
I have been involved with the Jandon Center going on three years now, specifically through my role as a researcher for The Springfield Participatory Action Crew (Project SPARC), which aims to analyze the obstacles faced by 18–24 year-olds in Springfield, Massachusetts, and create real, lasting solutions. In this role, I am responsible for a variety of things, but most recently my focus has been conducting, transcribing and coding interviews in an effort to learn about the impact of out-of-school programs during the transition from high school to adulthood.
What have you noticed about your community? What is working/not working?
Coming from western Massachusetts myself, and then getting to work with youth from Springfield, both as a mentor through Project Coach and a researcher through Project SPARC, I have had the opportunity to think deeply about the realities of my community and neighboring communities. Firstly, what we have going for us is drive, passion and immense potential. Working with youth and young adults from Springfield illustrates to me every day just how amazing and passionate of a community we are. The problem lies in the availability of resources and opportunities for young people to reach their full potential. In the communities of western Massachusetts, and specifically Springfield and Holyoke, if youth and young adults were granted access to resources such as community-based programs, grant funding and exposure opportunities, I believe that it would make all the difference for the lives of those in my community.
Who/what inspires you? Or who/what do you think we should know more about?
Recently, I have been really inspired by the people who I have interacted with and interviewed within Project SPARC. Within our most recent series of interviews, we have been speaking to young adults and asking them to reflect on how an out-of-school program may have impacted their high school experience as well as their transition out of high school and into the real world. I am always in awe to hear such unique and inspiring stories that tell about extreme perseverance and drive in the face of adversity. So many of the people I’ve talked to have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are today, be it college, career or elsewhere, and I feel inspired by their willingness to share their experiences with us, while also getting the chance to reflect on the realities of their lives during late adolescence. It has given me much to think about lately, not only in regard to my own young-adult life, but in how I want to continue to work to let more stories such as theirs be told.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about you? Or what’s a fun fact about yourself?
One thing that I think is important to know about me, and that many people may already know about me because of how vocal I am about it, is that I am from Holyoke, which is a city of about 40,000 people, around 15 minutes from Smith. Coming from Holyoke has greatly influenced my work here at Smith and within the Jandon Center. This reality really takes the phrase “this work hits close to home” and makes it real.
Similar in demographics to Springfield, which is where the majority of my work is based, Holyoke is the place where I was born, grew up, and it is still the place that I call home. I believe so strongly in the people, places and potential of western Massachusetts, and who I am as a person and as a student cannot be separated from that; it has really worked to inform my passion for community change and activism.
“If youth and young adults were granted access to resources such as community-based programs, grant funding and exposure opportunities, I believe that it would make all the difference for the lives of those in my community.”