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Civic Engagement Scholars Tackle Difficult Problems

Alejandro Jaramillo K’18 of HYPE, Kourtney Johnson K’17 of CAPS, and Emily Kozal K’18 of the Goodwill Adult Literacy Program discuss the rewards and challenges of being a CES (Andrew Parsons / Index)

Aspiring Civic Engagement Scholars (CES) attended this past Wednesday’s CES Discussion Panel to further their understanding of the responsibilities and rewarding experiences with which current CES’ are tasked. Facilitated by Center for Civic Engagement Program Associate Kururama Sanchez, Alejandro Jaramillo K’18 of HYPE, Kourtney Johnson K’17 of CAPS and Emily Kozal K’18 of the Goodwill Adult Literacy Program spoke of their involvement with their respective programs.

Each of the scholars elaborated in the development of their leadership skills, with Kozal saying that “dealing with uncomfortable situations” has put them all to the test.

“Part of that is accepting that you don’t always know how to react,” added Johnson.

“Working with the system is a pain in the ass, but most definitely worthwhile,” Jaramillo continued.

Johnson summarized certain “setbacks beyond our control,” continuing, “not being able to fix them—institutional problems and so forth—is what is most frustrating.”

Each CES emphasized the prioritization, time management, and administrative skills that their roles require on top of “being confident, tough, but willing to listen,” as Johnson added.

“It’s important to exit the K bubble and see or interact with what we hear and read about,” Kozal said about the CES work’s relationship with social justice.

“There is so much working against these youth,” Jaramillo said. “It is such a complex thing, but you can’t let that stop you.”

Kozal expressed that knowing she “can take two hours from [her] day to help and tutor math is a starting point.”

“We have the vocabulary to talk about [the problems] but not the experience to fix it,” added Johnson.

“Theory is great, but if there is no practice, then what is theory worth?” Jaramillo said.


Applications for 2016-2017 Civic Engagement Scholars can be found at https://reason.kzoo.edu/servicelearning/ces/apply/ and are open until April 6th. 

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Civic Engagement Scholars Tackle Difficult Problems