Opening doors for students to make a difference in their community

Anthony OsifuyeStudent Voice: Anthony Osifuye
Degree concentrations: Health and Wellness Thematic, Pre-Med

After working in a grocery store in high school, I knew I wanted a health and nutrition focus to my college studies and eventual career. I saw customers who would come through with mostly processed convenience food items, as opposed to some of the healthier items. I noticed a pattern over time of individuals who were on food stamps and aid making these choices.

It spurred an interest in health disparities across socioeconomic groups, and so when I was looking at degree plans, I wanted a focus where I could combine public health, nutrition, and medicine, and make an impact.

That's why the Health and Wellness thematic option of the Inter-College Program (ICP) was perfect. This way, I could look at the health and nutrition idea from different angles, from all across the U. From social science to physical and biological allowed me to develop a very comprehensive picture.

My career goal is to go into the medical field, ideally working in an underserved population with a diverse community.

My Inter-College Program degree gives me broader background that will help me do that kind of community work and be a stakeholder in the community, in addition to giving me the course work in the hard sciences.

I think my unique degree path will also be an advantage when the time comes to apply to med school. Graduate schools look at what you choose to do, and they see a lot of the biology and other hard sciences. I think an individualized degree, with a variety of courses, it makes me stand out a bit. It isn't a typical program.

Student Voice: Valentine Eben
Degree concentrations: Information Technology Infrastructure, Global Studies, Social Justice
Scholarships: Julius Nolte-Harold Miller Scholarship and Karin L. Larson Interdisciplinary Education Scholarship recipient

I grew up in Cameroon, where the government owned and controlled all the media outlets, T.V., radio, print, etc. As a child, I often heard stories of intellectuals and journalists killed or jailed for daring to question this regime, as well as stories about what life was like in the days of joined administration with Nigeria; about the electoral politics, and freedom of the press or freedom of association, etc.

So, when I was a teenager in the late 1980s, I followed with awe the pro-democracy protests in Eastern Europe. Before long, similar uprisings spread to Africa; and as the pro-democracy movement spread, I joined other community organizers to try and duplicate the uprisings in Cameroon. Because of my involvement in these protests, in 1998 I had to go into exile in Europe.

While there, I continued working in grassroots organizations. Aware of the importance of communication (i.e. media access) in garnering public support for social justice causes, I became active in an alternative software foundation that provides internet services, computer training, and open-source software solutions to community-based organizations at very low cost.

My work [over the past 10-plus years] showed me how much more I could contribute to [these causes] with advanced IT training. That's why I decided to return to school in the Inter-College Program. It allowed me to put together a degree that covers exactly what I'm interested in--social justice, community organizing, and IT. The ITI portion will help me develop more technical skills, while my social justice and global studies courses will allow me to gain empirical knowledge about what others are doing to pair with the hands-on work I've been doing already. With my degree, I hope to help community organizations leverage technology in order to achieve their missions.

Advisers are key

Behind every student is an adviser providing assistance to help them shape a program to meet their needs

"Valentine Eben's early years in Africa formed his consciousness and his thematic ICP degree focuses on how to support community involvement at the grassroots level through technology. Combining IT infrastructure with sustainability and global studies was truly unique; this demonstrates how a person's life experience and wish to effect change in the world can be expressed in the individualized degree."
-Karolyn Redoute, adviser

Jennifer Hall

Student Voice: Jennifer Hall
Degree concentrations: Ojibwe Language, Social Justice (Heritage Language Stewardship)
Scholarships: Julius Nolte-Harold Miller Scholarship, Karin L. Larson Interdisciplinary Education Scholarship, and WCA Gilford and Esther Remington Scholarship recipient

I'm passionate about two main areas. The first is the Ojibwe language, an endangered tribal language in Minnesota. The second is social justice, especially as it relates to language diversity. I think both issues can only be understood and improved when you work with society as a whole system. I was so happy to discover the ICP because it gave me a great opportunity to blend both of my passions into a unique, fulfilling course of study.

I've always had an affinity for languages. Ojibwe, in particular, is close to my heart because it's also a part of my heritage. It is a beautiful language, but endangered, and I wanted to be a part of the efforts to revitalize it enough so that it comes back into daily use. As for a whole-systems perspective to social justice, I became interested in it because I think it has a lot to teach us about solving systemic problems instead of reacting to the symptoms of a broken society.

The goal with my degree is to be able to use the principles of whole systems healing to learn to evaluate the myriad factors that have contributed to loss of the Ojibwe language and respond to them in a way that would hopefully have a lot of leverage in support of revitalization.

I know it's somewhat of a unique combination, but I feel like it will be immediately applicable to my career goals and future plans. After graduation, I can see myself developing materials for immersion programs, teaching, or helping adult students learn how to speak it. I see my degree preparing me by giving me a foundation in Ojibwe...and for providing me the tools to think critically and work within a wider frame of reference when dealing with the issues facing language learners.

CCE has given me the flexibility to study in areas like Ojibwe, whole systems healing, anthropology, and education. This means that I'll graduate from the University with a unique degree that has given me the tools I need to be successful in any area I choose. It is a great program and has opened up many doors for me.

Advisers are key

Advisers work with students during the course of their degree to develop a deep understanding of their strengths and goals.

"Jennifer Hall came to CCE as a transfer student and has immersed herself in the study of Ojibwe and is working closely with faculty. I've watched her consciousness as a preservationist for native languages develop in the last two years. She will make a significant contribution to her chosen field."
-Karolyn Redoute, adviser