Urban Semester participants with program director Mila Cooper (pictured front row, right)

New Living-Learning Program Offers Real-World Urban Immersion

The feast began with the uproarious laughter of nine hungry college students.

"Just as our dinner began, one of the housemates spilled our dessert!" exclaimed Courtney De Schepper, a sophomore and participant in the Urban Semester Program. "We laughed so hard!" she said, recalling the sight of the dessert heaped on the floor.

House dinners offer a chance for the students to laugh, unwind and feel a sense of community through shared participation in BW's new Urban Semester Program.

Inner-City Classroom Brings Urban Studies to Life

The collaborative program is held at the College's Archwood House in Cleveland and aims to provide students with a well-rounded understanding of urban issues and diversity. By combining academics with metropolitan living and professional experience, the students are immersed in a service-focused, living-learning environment.

The students do more than build community within their Brooklyn Centre Neighborhood home. They take courses together and volunteer in the community. Much like classes on campus, the group completes assignments, homework and exams. However, the focus of their studies is on inner-city issues, multicultural psychology, diversity and identity, urban politics, urban community life and community engagement.

Focused Internships Build Community Connections

During the semester, each student interns at a partner organization, such as University Settlement, Dress for Success, St. Malachi Center, Community Shares, Esperanza, North East Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Cogswell Hall, Rainey Institute and Council of Smaller Enterprises. Interning with a local non-profit organization provides the students opportunities to apply the knowledge they're gaining through the program.

"We want students to discover who they want to be, personally and professionally," said Mila Cooper, director of Community Outreach.  "Urban Semester is a way for them to combine work, real-world learning and community engagement in a way that provides them insights and skills they can use in their careers."

The nine students participating in the program include Ian Brown, Alfrie Davis, Courtney De Schepper, Alana Garrett-Ferguson, Jessie Jones, Kennetha Martin, LeAnna Miller, Jazmine Reed and Ben Woods. Whether volunteering within the community around them or gathering at the dinner table for conversation, these students are gaining appreciation for diversity and urban issues, as well as practical skills for personal and professional success.

Posted 10/11

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