DegreeAfrican & African American Studies '21
To prepare for junior year, I was looking for experiences that were outside of premed. I plan on having a minor in education, but I felt like I wasn't doing enough with that passion. I really enjoy education and working with children in public school systems, but it was hard to find classes that didn't take away from my premed schedule.
I heard about Community Schools and Community School physician positions, and I realized I definitely wanted to be a part of this Bass Connections project. I could actually merge my interest of medicine and education together through this path, so I was really excited. This is perfect for me because I want to be a physician working with public schools and interacting with children, especially with children of color.
I ended up going to Orlando and seeing the University of Central Florida partnership and their Community School, so I got a lot of field experience. Being able to look at a classroom, look at the different health offices that were on campus, like a dentist or a clinic, you don't see that at a public school. After learning about it, you think it sounds amazing, but seeing it in action makes you realize there are tangible results. There's a social work office in the school. There's a psychologist in the school. There are all of these resources for free available to the students, the parents and the community members, which is amazing.
While working on this project, I learned that Community Schools are special and unique. Each school has resources and assistance programs that are catered and gathered specifically for that community. I think that's beautiful because it addresses what is affecting the local community. Even just having access to a washer and dryer at school can make all the difference for a child and being able to focus in class. Being able to have access to three meals a day can help a child trying to focus in math.
It really showed me that there are differences, there are problems, there are inequities that children face that are out of their control and that's extremely hard. It makes sense if children are acting out, it makes sense if children don't want to come to school, it makes sense if they're not putting all of their effort into school. How can you do that if you're hungry? How can you do that if you don't have a winter coat? How can you give school your all in your field dealing with problems that are much bigger than learning algebra that day? It really opened my eyes to what children go through on a daily basis.
I take so much pride in my team, because I feel like we're one of the first Bass Connections teams to interact with another school, but especially an HBCU (historically Black college or university). I find it amazing that we have those perspectives from North Carolina Central University. There’s potential for a lot of cross collaboration because we're down the street from each other. The partnership between the universities is one of the best things about the project because I get to interact with students from a different university and get different perspectives. I really appreciate having different types of thought and collaboration.
See related article, How Duke and NC Central University Are #InThisTogether to Support Durham Schools