My name is Jennifer Roach, and I just started my year as the Civic Engagement Fellow at Wesleyan. I am taking the place of the wonderful Rosy Capron ’14 in her office behind the bookshelf in Allbritton 318.
This year I will be working with the Center for Community Partnerships, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship on all things Civic Engagement at Wesleyan. First things first, I will be managing the newsletter and contributing stories to the ENGAGE blog. I am particularly excited about featuring recent alumni in a “1 Year Out” blog post series on careers in community organizing, social entrepreneurship, government, and civic engagement (class of 2014 hit me up!). I will be working on organizing Allbritton Talks, alumni speaking events, and training opportunities for student leaders.
I am coming to this position as a recent alumna. I graduated in May of 2014 with a dual major in Environmental Studies and the Science in Society Program. During my time at Wesleyan, I ran a non-profit that I founded in 2010 called Summer of Solutions Hartford. It is an urban farming and youth leadership development organization based in Hartford. We lead an Urban Farming Internship program for people ages 14-30 to get their hands dirty practicing urban farming by working in school and community gardens across Hartford.
Of course, taking on this project as a student greatly shaped my college experience. Working on Summer of Solutions Hartford within the context of Wesleyan provided me with so many opportunities, resources, and networks, especially through the Patricelli Center. It also provided for me a community of students dedicated to doing similar work through Long Lane Farm, Food Not Bombs, and the Real Food Challenge.
I left Wesleyan incredibly grateful for the ways I had been supported to do meaningful work while earning my degree. I worked with Professor Fullilove to research a thesis on Effective Environmental Education which culminated in a curriculum for use in Summer of Solutions. I spent many hours in Makaela Kingsley’s office brainstorming creative ideas for my program, always leaving with a list of a dozen people in her network to contact. I found funding, interns, mentorship, and academic support at Wesleyan for Summer of Solutions, and it was by far the most meaningful part of college for me.
I am returning to Allbritton very excited to be a part of the offices that were so instrumental to my experience at Wesleyan. I would like to make myself available to all of you for feedback, brainstorming, and support for your ideas. I offer five years of experience running an organization, skills in facilitation, grant writing, curriculum development, training, recruitment, boring things like payroll systems and accounting, and of course gardening. I am bringing a different perspective to the center as someone who has been on the “community partner” side of things hosting workdays for university groups in Hartford. I am very enthusiastic about hearing student ideas and supporting you to make them into something tangible. It will undoubtedly shape your experience here, and after Wes, as well. You can find me in Allbritton 318 behind the bookshelves!