Oglethorpe students don’t have far to go for a world of opportunities. Here’s how a few of them took advantage this summer of all Atlanta has to offer…
Heather Johnston ’17, a communications and rhetoric studies major, was accepted into a Summer Teach-In at the International Human Trafficking Institute (IHTI), a program of The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
Inspired by the legacy of student organizing within the American Civil Rights movement and youth organizing within today’s global human rights struggles, IHTI connects with student leaders and young professionals to organize and advocate for the end of human trafficking and cultivate the next generation of leaders. The Teach-In helped students to learn how to plan, strategize, and ignite an activist movement on campus.
“We focused not on human trafficking alone, but an overall understanding of social change in society and how we, as student leaders, can work for and towards this social change in way that is different from simply service learning,” said Heather, who cited the Teach-In’s focus on the need for “the three C’s” of social change: connect, collaborate, and collective action.
Heather and other attendees also heard from inspiring speakers, including GA State Representative Stacey Abrams and Derreck Kayongo, CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and honorary degree recipient at Oglethorpe’s 2016 Commencement. He challenged them to learn to recognize social injustice and to begin their own journey to right those injustices.
Biopsychology major Kelsey Hurt ’16 will graduate in December, and is using her final summer break to intern at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta. Kelsey, who spent last fall studying neuropharmacology at Oxford University (U.K.), is gaining experience in behavioral coding and researching brain structures through histological tissue processing.
“Every day is a new experience,” said Kelsey. “Last week, I suited up (I have a locker here and switch into scrubs from my street clothes) and watched an MRI scan on one of the monkeys. I have fed the monkeys many times with one of the grad students, Alison. This experience started out as me standing in the corner while (she) did all of the feeding—to now I can help feed them with her supervision. Some monkeys have grown to like me so well that they will just open their mouths wishfully thinking I’ll put the treat in their mouth for them.”
“Yesterday, I submitted an abstract (of the research that I’m working on) to the Society for Social Neuroscience in order to present at the conference in San Diego this year and represent OU!” said Kelsey, who is now a member of that professional organization. “Interning at Yerkes National Primate Research Center…is the most impactful educational experience I have had so far…I will absolutely walk away from Yerkes being an animal research ambassador with a strong understanding of how important animal research truly is.”
In the Next Generation Radio program, students have the chance to learn specialized audio skills from pros, including GPB’s Celeste Headlee, host of “On Second Thought.” The week-long workshop is designed to give students interested in radio and journalism the skills and opportunity to report and produce their own radio story.
Through her internship and the workshop, Olivia has produced several GPB segments, including her most recent, “The #BankBlack Movement: Atlantans Respond to Police Brutality“. As part of the production, Olivia conducted on-site interviews with some of the 8000+ new customers of Citizens Trust Bank, an Atlanta-based black owned and operated financial institution. They had responded to a call to action from the #BankBlack movement to transfer their accounts to the bank. Olivia reached out to Dr. Kendra King Momon, professor of politics at Oglethorpe, to provide the historical context for the movement and how economic boycotts can lead to social change.
Olivia reflected on the challenges of reporting this story in “Field Notes: Reporting is a two-step process,” in which she shares a simple, yet important, lesson learned: the “first step was to show up, the second step was to just talk to people” and “let go and listen.”