This quarter I am enrolled in HON 350: Memory and Memorialization for my senior capstone requirement for the honors program. It is centered around the challenges that arise in the memorialization of trauma, and how these can be addressed through counter-memorials and alternative designs that reject traditional memorialization techniques. For example, last week we presented analyses of memorial designs submitted for the 9/11 memorial in NYC; the one I chose is pictured above.
One of the main focuses of HON 350 is the memorialization process that is currently underway commemorating Chicago police justice torture survivors from atrocities that were commited by CPD in the 1980’s, and our final project will be to create our own memorial design.
The class is team-taught by two DePaul professors from the art and philosophy departments, which creates a unique learning environment in which students are able to gain even more knowledge and experience than in a traditional classroom setting. Both professors provide feedback on the work we turn in and present for class as opposed to only getting evaluated by one. This has been one of my favorite classes at DePaul thus far, and I am looking forward to the interesting material we delve into throughout the rest of the quarter.
This quarter I am participating in a service-learning course, ENV 245 Urban and Community Agriculture. For courses like this one, there is an additional component that involves students fulfilling a set amount of work with a community organization or non-profit. Since this class in particular is centered around urban agriculture, most of my peers and I are working with urban farms or gardens throughout the Chicagoland area. I picked an urban farm called Just Roots located in Bronzeville, and I’ve been working with them for about four weeks now assisting with various projects and day-to-day tasks.
One of the reasons I have continuously chosen service-learning courses to fulfill my academic requirements over more traditional classes is because of the unique learning process that unfolds when classroom material is complemented by community engagement centered around the same topics. For example, last week my professor delivered a lecture on the barriers that many people face in order to gain food access. Once on the farm, Sean (one of the co-founders) began telling me about the reasons that the farm started and the issues it sought to address, including issues surrounding food access in the community.
Every time I take a service-learning course, I gain experience and knowledge that I would not have taken away simply from reading class material. Engaging with the class content in a hands-on way each week is a unique experience, and one that I’m thankful DePaul has offered me. If you’re thinking of taking a service-learning class but are unsure about the extra work or commitment, be assured it will be worth it in the end and you’ll come away from the quarter with an experience you would not have gained anywhere else.
At the beginning of last quarter, a friend and I decided that we needed to get more involved at DePaul. We have attended various meetings for clubs, but it has been difficult finding something that we can both attend regularly due to our hectic work and school schedules. As we were browsing Orgsync, DePaul’s website listing all of its clubs and organizations, we found something called ARCH. According to the website, “ARCH is an organization that promotes awareness of homelessness and mental illness in Chicago through service and reflection.” As students who have always been involved in service in our own communities, ARCH’s mission statement appealed to both of us. As we read more about it, we found out that ARCH travels to a local women’s shelter, Deborah’s Place, every Sunday morning to cook brunch for the women staying there and engage in dialogue with them.
Ever since we discovered ARCH, we have learned a lot through this engagement. Last year I interned with a nonprofit working toward connecting homeless people in Chicago with permanent housing, so it felt right to involve myself in something along the same lines. Traveling to Deborah’s Place on Sunday mornings is the best way to start my week and is a deeply meaningful use of my time. I would encourage anyone looking for an impactful way to spend a couple hours each week to become involved in ARCH. It has allowed my friend and me to gain a lot of perspective as well as to feel as if we are positively contributing to our community.
This quarter I am participating in another service learning class called Environmental Justice and Advocacy. It’s an elective for my major, so while not everyone is required to take this class it sounded like a great opportunity to get more involved in environmental justice outside of the classroom. In the first week of class, I was placed with Rebuilding Exchange, a nonprofit focused on diverting building materials that would go to landfills and repurposing them for sustainable reuse. They also have a job training program to assist individuals who face barriers to employment (due to previous incarceration, homelessness, etc.) in gaining skills in the field of sustainable reconstruction. This organization does a multitude of amazing things for communities in Chicago, and I feel lucky to be able to intern with them this quarter! Service learning classes are truly some of my favorite. Although a lot of extra time and effort is required, the people you meet and the experience you have makes everything worth it.
Since I want to work at an environmental nonprofit in the future,
gaining experience with one as an undergraduate is one of the best
opportunities to set myself up for success. DePaul offers a variety of service-learning courses that match you up with nonprofits in Chicago, and this will be
my third time taking one. These classes are unique to DePaul and reflect the
Vincentian mission of the University, which was one of my initial reasons for
choosing this school. DePaul truly puts an emphasis on service, and being in
the city of Chicago offers so many opportunities to get involved. From service
learning classes to countless service organizations, DePaul has countless ways
for students to serve the community around them.
When I was a senior in high school, my head was spinning with the thought of all of the colleges I could apply to and potentially attend. It seemed as if the opportunities were endless, which caused me to feel extremely overwhelmed and unsure of which choices to make. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to attend school in a city filled with opportunity and potential for growth. I wanted to be in a place where I could do a million different things and not feel as if I was limited in any way. For me, that ended up being Chicago due to its location (six hours from home) as well as my love for the city and all that it has to offer.
Once I knew I wanted to go to school in Chicago, the next step was to decide which school was right for me. My situation was a little bit different than your average applicant because I applied before I even visited DePaul due to being an out-of-state student. By spending a lot of time on DePaul’s website, I gained some insight that led me to realize how important service is to the DePaul community. As secretary of my high school service club and an extremely active volunteer in my community, I knew service was something I wanted to continue to be a part of in my college career. DePaul’s emphasis on service was a large factor in my decision to apply as well as one of the reasons I was drawn to DePaul in particular over other Chicago schools.
Once I applied to DePaul, the decision to attend school here was fairly easy. It’s cliché to say that once I stepped on campus it felt like home, but it did. DePaul is unique because it does not feel like you are constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. When you are on campus in Lincoln Park it feels like a college campus, and when you are downtown in the Loop it feels like you are right in the middle of Chicago. You could go from a class in 14 E. Jackson to an internship with any of Chicago’s Fortune 500 companies within ten minutes. On the other hand, you could also go from a class in Lincoln Park to relaxing on North Ave. Beach within about twenty minutes. At DePaul, you really do have the best of both worlds, and this is another significant reason that I was drawn to this school in the first place.
Good luck to all of you seniors who are in the application process! I know you’ll find the right school for you, and hopefully, that means being a blue demon for the next four years here at DePaul.