I am so grateful to have had this experience - not only was I exposed to so many different facets of advocacy work but I was able to learn so much about the complexities of providing affordable housing and ending homelessness as well. The small size of the WHA meant that the interns were given a great deal of freedom, trust, and responsibility, which gave me a renewed sense of self-confidence and inspired me to keep finding opportunities to be challenged.
I've already found myself using learnings from this experience in new ways! I wrote about the Platt Road proposals in my final paper for my Policy Writing class and would often apply our discussion topics from the bi-weekly fellows meetings to class discussions in my Social Justice Leadership class.
Reflecting on my Fellowship Experience:
What have I learned about myself? What have I learned about working with others?
I've learned that this kind of work takes a great deal of passion, effort, and dedication, but rather than draining me, it makes me feel accomplished and truly happy. I have adored being surrounded by people who share the same goal - to better the world around us, and, I think, the people are part of the reason I have enjoyed this fellowship and this work experience so much.
How did this experience challenge or reinforce my conceptualization of service and community engagement?
To slightly echo what I stated above, I've learned this semester that true, meaningful community engagement and service requires a great deal of effort and dedication. Positive results may be difficult to see in the short-term, but the long-term results are what makes this type of work so worth it.
How did this experience challenge or reinforce my conceptualization of leadership?
My belief that anyone has the capacity to be a leader was reinforced. I was able to see how 3 people, with varying experiences and characteristics, were able to thrive in community engagement leadership roles - because we all had a shared dedication to our communities.
How did this experience challenge or reinforce knowledge or skills I had gained in other spaces of campus?
I was actually able to draw from many skills I had gained during my time at U-M. From memo writing that I had practiced in my Public Policy classes, to communication skills I had worked on as a sorority president, to the importance of self-reflection that has helped me to personally grow throughout college, this experience required me to apply many of my past learnings from campus (and helped me to further develop them).
I don't have any definitive answers, but I do know a few things...
I am confident that I want to improve the lives of others, particularly the under-privileged, in my future career.
I know that I work best around people who are compassionate in general and passionate about what they do.
I know that I will use the "hater bell" technique whenever I need to let go of something that's been bothering me :)
I'd like to thank...
- The Ginsberg Center for providing me with this opportunity
- The Washtenaw Housing Alliance for welcoming me into your space
- Kina & Katie for being fantastic friends and fellow fellows this semester
- Amanda Carlisle and Heather Nash for being phenomenal mentors and bosses
- Danyelle Reynolds for organizing and managing this program & being a compassionate and amazing human being