Community Engagement


So I participated in the
interdisciplinary environmental clinic, which gives students the opportunity to
work on local environmental law cases, and advocate on behalf of community
organizations. Something that was meaningful to me
in this course was being able to see the impact of my work. One of the projects I
worked on involved preventing the development of a massive ice skating
complex in Creve Coeur Park. And now every time I go to that park, I get to
see how beautiful it is, and I get to say I helped preserve this.
So there’s a really strong emotional impact. Being a community engaged
course really taught me to deal with both wins and losses. In the
environmental world you aren’t always going to get that win. Sometimes
developers or fossil fuel company’s succeed, but there’s always hope, there’s
always another path you can take, another way to fight that battle.
Maybe if a law doesn’t exist and you can’t win a certain case then you move
on to policy advocacy. So it really taught me the power of persistence and
that you have to build up personal resiliency in order to help build
resilient communitie s. When we think about community engagement, sometimes the
problem isn’t only engaging with people in the community, which we use as a word
to indicate that people that are living with some sort of issue, or that we’re
talking about. It’s also engaging with everybody who’s irrelevant stakeholder
in the process. I started out with this community building for us and then
I took this public health course. Reflecting back now two years after I
graduated, these really set me up on my current career path. After I graduated I
moved to Montana and kept focusing on native health. It’s good to want to focus
on for example doing research in an academic setting, but for me it
wasn’t important as understanding how that research could impact people’s everyday
lives, and change, and help change society or change things for the better. So the
first course I took was my junior year of college and it was called Women in
Prisons. So not only did we go to Vandalia the women’s prison in Missouri,
we also talked about how incarceration in general even if it’s affecting men,
goes on to impact the women in society. something that really resonated with me
was where I was at the Center for Women in Transition, and I was talking to some
of the women there during the life skills classes, and we were just honestly
talking about health care. And I saw a form of health care not only through the
prison system but also how health care it works before that, and how the
systemic injustice is are at play in a variety of ways. And so we were talking
about gynecological care which is something I want to do. I want to be an
OB/GYN, and just how that system is limited, especially for women that you
know we need constant checkups, yearly accesses to this care, and it’s not really
available to a large portion of our society. Even though I was working at an
organization when we were talking about incarceration and other form of those
injustices, I saw health care which is something that I’m really passionate
about come up over and over again. It’s not about you know just the prisons, it’s
not just about healthcare, it’s not just about education. They’re all really connected
and I think you really hear that when you hear people’s stories that you’re
working with and I think that really shaped my opinion on healthcare and it
really made me see that I want to have these experiences working with people
before I go on and practice medicine. Because, I really don’t think I’m gonna
be a good doctor unless I listen to these stories had
these experiences beforehand. These courses tell you about the work that’s
being done in our community, tells you about the issues in our community, and
it’s really again a chance to get to learn about St. Louis, and I think it’s a
great structured way to do so.

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