The Connection Community Consultants
Adrienne Shapiro, Connection Consultant
My first project as a Community Consultant involved working with a local charter school, the Dr. Rayner Browne Academy. The school had approached SOURCE asking for help designing and implementing a health sciences careers curriculum. Working with my teammates, teachers, SOURCE, and a number of Hopkins staff and faculty, we put together a series of guest speakers and activities to introduce 6th and 7th graders to careers from medical microbiology to surgical nursing and medicine. I "graduated" from classroom observer to teacher over the course of the project. The classroom experience convinced me that everyone, no matter his or her profession, should spend some time in schools, learn how our youth are being educated, and commit to some measure of improving the schools in his or her local area.
Working with SOURCE through the Connection has been a really great way to get involved in the Baltimore community. Being a Community Consultant appealed to me as a way to help leverage the specialized experience and resources of Johns Hopkins students in a way that can directly benefit the community. Many students, especially MPH students, are only in Baltimore for a year, which is not a lot of time to get an in-depth understanding of a city. SOURCE does a fantastic job providing a link between local organizations and students as a way of tapping the expertise of students and connecting them with groups that have specific needs. My interest in community involvement has always meant making certain compromises--on the one hand, I think it is useful to get in-depth expsoure to a single organization or cause over a long period of time, to ensure that any contribution will end up being informed and meaningful. On the other hand, Baltimore has such a fascinating milieu that it's hard to pick only one area to focus on! I wanted to get exposure to a variety of people and issues within the community, but I also wanted to make sure my contribution was one that would be useful. The project-based, outcomes-oriented focus of the Connection has been a good way to combine my desire to provide community groups with resources they wouldn't easily have access to otherwise (my talented Connections teammates!) but, with a structure to allow involvement with multiple projects over my time at Hopkins.
I was delighted this year to see a consultant request from Power Inside on the past project cycle. Power Inside, a local grassroots organization, provides services to and advocates on behalf of women in the community who have been impacted by street life, violence, and incarceration. I had been volunteering with Power Inside as a tutor and informal consultant for several years, and I was glad to have the chance to strengthen Power Inside's access to a talented student consultant pool. Since I had previous experience with the organization, I volunteered to act as team leader, and was also excited to have the chance to translate my knowledge of health and public health issues into concrete, reusable products for Power Inside and their clients.
For more information about the Connection, view our Connection website.