On Friday, April 22, the Drew Action Scholars (DAS) hosted their annual Town Hall in the Ehinger Center where first-year Action Scholars presented projects on how they plan to address social issues affecting local communities. The students worked on these projects throughout the academic year in their Drew Action Seminar courses, designed to help them acquire the necessary skills to evoke change in their communities through collaboration.
First-year DASs organized themselves into teams based on common passions for a particular cause and conducted intensive research using logic models to find the best approach to address their cause. During the spring semester, students were able to successfully launch their projects and pitch them to students and faculty that attended the Town Hall.
“Being new to the University, it was extremely rewarding to know that we were able to empower students to learn and share about Civic Engagement and community development,” said Sean Hewitt, the assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement.
One project presented by Jemy Samuel, Anthony Tonini, Grace Rinehart and Anna Beth Lee (all ‘25) was “Plants for the People,” an initiative to start a community garden at Drew. Their goal was to give students access to fresh, organic produce as well as to donate the produce to the InterFaith Food Pantry in an effort to address food insecurity.
The group has been working to clean up the greenhouse on campus and has already started planting vegetables and herbs with the help of the funding organization TERRA. They also partnered with members of the Theological school and gained support from President Schwarz. The group gave away free plants to audience members that participated in their presentation’s discussion.
“We will definitely continue on with our project, but we need the help and support of everyone [not just limited to CLA or Drew],” said Samuel. “We will also have events and activities, and we really hope people attend. My group is looking for help with the greenhouse throughout the year and especially through summer and breaks, so if anyone is interested, please contact my group.”
Assata Mutakabbir , Amira Mutakabbir, Nzingha Mutakabbir, Brenna Behensky and Cameryn Brown (all ‘25) presented “Behind The Athlete,” an initiative that aims to advocate for the mental health of athletes on campus. All of the group members are part of the women’s fencing team and they have seen athletes struggle with mental health, whether it be themselves or their teammates.
“Not only does our group serve to take action and advocate for current student-athletes, but we serve to be a voice for athletes everywhere,” said Assata Mutakabbir.
The group sent out a survey to every athlete on campus and was able to get over 100 responses. They also met with Athletic Director, Christa Racine, all athletic coaches, Head Athletic Trainer Chris Ryan and representatives from the Counseling Center to gain different perspectives on athletes’ mental health. Their goal is to bring a sports psychologist to Drew and host seminars for athletes.
The DASs are looking forward to implementing these changes and events on campus and encourage members of the community to reach out if they are interested in assisting with the execution of their projects.