Jennifer is returning to graduate school for a Master’s in Social Work (with a certificate in family life coaching) because as much as she loves first generation college students, she also loves being in and with the community; social work offers the opportunity to potentially bridge these passions. She has always been passionate about the mission of social work (to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty) and realized after several years in higher education that she needed to serve in an environment “with the community” instead of “for the community.” The vision and leadership team of SERP made it an obvious choice for her internship as it’s based in relationship building, leadership development, education and advocacy — “with” the community. After learning more about SERP through her volunteer work with the Alexander YMCA, Dexter referred her to Kia, Dr. Brookins affirmed this would be an excellent choice, Kia and Allison (MSW, Cary YMCA Community Outreach Director) agreed to co-supervise her per MSW requirements, and the rest is history:)
Some of the skills Jennifer was hoping to develop through this opportunity include: community and organizational capacity building, a better understanding of placemaking research, to research best practices for leadership development with youth and single parents, and to learn more about meaningful, engaging educational opportunities (K12, postsecondary, formal and informal) that will promote living wages for the community as well as engage them in their passions. Jennifer will be working with youth leadership development benchmarking, organizational capacity building through CHILA, and looking at best practices that support and foster self sufficiency for low-income young single mothers through practices that collectively advance success in academics, finances, parenting, emotional/spiritual well being and healthy community relationships.
Five years from now, Jennifer hopes to be successfully launching a child into her own meaningful life experiences with her own firm faith foundation (while also staying close to one another). She also hope to be living in and working with the SERP community she had the privilege to be involved with from the early beginnings. Her aspirations are to continue to work with youth and families in a purpose built community and to help youth/families a.) recognize and utilize their gifts in a way that lifts the community and b.) navigate and change unjust systems that put obstacles in their paths through intergenerational community education, advocacy and leadership development.
Jennifer enjoys learning with and serving her community and is especially passionate about issues of diversity, gender equity and utilizing education as a transformative tool for social change. She has served in universities (teaching and student affairs) as well as nonprofit community youth work in Wisconsin and North Carolina. The common thread in all her work is how much she enjoys helping individuals recognize their unique gifts and encouraging others to share those gifts with their respective communities. Jennifer enjoys serving in the community with her daughter, reading, the greenways of raleigh, dirty chais, fall weather and backyard bonfires with loved one.