Michelle Waksman, BMC ’24

Fair and Just Prosecution

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: SOCL 420 Social Justice and Social Change

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site:Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP)

Field Supervisor: Robin Olsen

Praxis Poster: 

MichelleWaxsman_Poster_Final_SP24

 

Further Context:

This semester, I interned at Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP). FJP works with a network of elected prosecutors to advocate for a more equitable, just, and compassionate criminal justice system. They address many policy areas, including diversion programs, juvenile justice, bail reform, and more.

This placement allowed me to strengthen and hone my research skills. I worked to compile the most recent reports, academic research, new articles, and press releases related to the issues FJP is committed to. This was then sent out to the DAs in our network to keep everyone on the same page, share best practices, and alert them to innovations in the field.

I was also honored to be part of multiple planning teams for the April Convening. There, DAs from the network joined for a two-day conference, hearing from an array of experts and those with lived experience in the criminal justice system. I was part of a few research teams building out the panels. I identified potential speakers, joined meetings with them, and collected the most relevant research to their topics. I also worked to compile extensive background research on the individual and the programs they support. These resources were then sent, in one case, to the Executive Director to provide the necessary context for her meeting with a high-profile speaker.

Something interesting about FJP is that they are completely remote. I was impressed by how well FJP functioned and built relationships across distance. It allowed me to strengthen my communication skills and not be afraid to reach out to any member of the team with questions. They made themselves open and available to help me at every juncture, which truly elevated my experience and integrated me into the team deeper than I would have expected.

Overall, I got a close look into how change is made or attempted. Even if I thought we had hit a wall, the staff showed me how we can always pivot and use what we have learned to advance another effort. Thank you to the Praxis Program and FJP for an incredible semester!

Mary Pastore, BMC ’25

Partnership with the Petey Greene Program

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: SOCL 420 Social Justice and Social Change

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: The Petey Greene Program / Beyond Literacy

Field Supervisor: Chiara Benetollo

Praxis Poster: 

Mary Pastore_Poster_Final_S24

 

Further Context:

This semester I volunteered for the Petey Greene Program, an organization dedicated to providing incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students access to respectful, trained tutors and rewarding educational programming. I was introduced to PGP in the spring of 2023, when I took an Inside-Out class of half incarcerated students and half Bryn Mawr students at SCI Chester. When I learned that there was an opportunity to volunteer with them through Praxis this year, I jumped at the chance.

The Petey Greene Program was founded in 2008 and has volunteer groups across the East Coast. To become a tutor with PGP, volunteers must partake in multiple national training sessions, covering topics from “The Carceral State and Educational Justice” to “Ethical Volunteerism and Intentional Engagement.” Tutors are also required to attend seminars focused on Tutor Development and Justice Education; these sessions are designed to ensure that tutors have a comprehensive understanding of carceral environments and the barriers that incarcerated students face throughout their journeys.

Lucy and I tutored weekly at Beyond Literacy, which offers classes in adult education and workforce training for citizens of Philadelphia in need. We worked with students to prepare for the Social Studies and Reasoning through Language Arts sections of the GED test. These subjects ostensibly test students’ reading comprehension and ability to analyze literature, grammar skills, understanding of graphs and maps, and critical reasoning. In reality, they test a student’s ability to choose the “best” answer, not the “right” one, and they ask students to work quickly by recognizing patterns and thinking how the GED’s creators want them to think. Each session, we worked through challenging practice questions, and the more problems the students solved, the more they could justify their correct answers and explain why they chose one option over another. I saw real improvement in my student’s work, and I am very impressed by his work ethic and determination; he has served as a great role model for my own studies!

In addition, we have had the opportunity to read incarcerated students’ writing through the College Bridge program. PGP has created a class for students at SCI Phoenix to practice their academic writing; the skills they learn in class can then be used to apply to Villanova and pass the entrance exam, with the goal of obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. I read students’ thoughtful essays and kept up with their readings, creating discussion questions that could be used in class. It was a joy to read their unique writing styles and encourage them to have more faith in their own abilities. I truly hope that every student writes a great essay for Villanova and gets the amazing chance to pursue their studies.

Working with the Petey Greene Program has been an incredible experience. Everyone I’ve met, from students to advisors and teachers, has been enthusiastic, kind, and driven. I have become a better teacher, but even more importantly, I am more comfortable in new environments and more confident taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone. I learned so much about how I can support incarcerated and formerly incarcerated learners, but I want to learn even more. My readings in class with Professor Karen have given me a great starting point from which to do more research about incarceration in the US and how educational justice is evolving. I hope to stay connected with PGP and share their mission with others who want to make a difference in incarcerated people’s lives.

 

Desire Bagot, BMC ’24

Philadelphia Fight and Social Justice

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: SOCL 420 Social Justice and Social Change

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: Philadelphia FIGHT

Field Supervisor: Catrina Peeples

Praxis Poster: 

Desiree Bagot_Poster_Final_S24_redsize3

 

Further Context:

Through the Praxis Course, Social Justice and Social Change, I had the opportunity to volunteer with Philadelphia FIGHT. FIGHT is a non-profit, comprehensive health services organization providing primary care, consumer education, research, and advocacy for people living with HIV/AIDS and those at high risk. I worked within the Human Resources department where I assisted the Chief HR Officer and HR staff with a variety of tasks such as filing paperwork for new employees, participating in interviews, scheduling and managing interviews, ensuring correct information of staff on the organization’s website, and updating job descriptions and job description templates. The Praxis course has allowed me to apply principles of power, social justice, and social change to the work I’ve done at FIGHT.

While working at FIGHT, I did not initially see how working within the HR department and ideas about social justice could coincide. I often wondered if the work I was doing was enough, and if this work even pertained to social justice. I’ve come to realize that all aspects of work within a non-profit organization are integral in the functioning of an organization and in sustaining it as well. But even more so, I realized that HR and social justice intersect more than I realized. At FIGHT, I had the opportunity to assist in the planning of Employee Appreciation Week (EAW). While planning for this event, we discussed the importance of raising staff morale and especially the importance of staff appreciation. In non-profit organizations where employee burnout is typically a concern, it is important to foster community and support where community care can flourish. In another instance, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about equitable hiring processes that the HR department adheres to. My supervisor has discussed how important it is to provide every individual with equal opportunity in the hiring process, regardless if there has been a recommendation of a particular individual by an employee within the organization. Furthermore, it is also important to increase ethnic and racial diversity in non-profit leadership positions and ensure their voices are heard and valued.

Within a classroom setting, I’ve had the opportunity to read different principles, theories, and other articles that discuss dismantling institutional power and the role that non-profit organizations play in challenging institutional power. Something that I have been thinking about is how and if non-profit organizations can simultaneously challenge micro and macro levels of institutional power that perpetuate inequality. How do we work towards transforming institutions of power while making conditions livable under capitalism in our own communities? Would this increase the workload among employees, and therefore put already existing pressure on non-profit employees? As I work towards my future endeavors in the non-profit world, these questions will sit with me.

Volunteering at FIGHT has allowed me to further build the relationships I made when I worked there as an intern the previous summer. This experience has also allowed me to understand the intersections between human resources and social justice. I have been able to reflect on the social justice work that non-profit organizations do, and how social justice values can be maintained within an organization.

 

Lucy Benson, BMC ’25

Educational Justice and the Petey Greene Program

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: SOCL 420 Social Justice and Social Change

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: The Petey Greene Program /  Beyond Literacy

Field Supervisor: Chiara Benetollo

Praxis Poster: 

Lucy Benson_Poster_Final_S24

 

Further Context:

My praxis experience was in partnership with the Petey Greene Program of Philadelphia. PGP “supports the academic goals of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people through high-quality volunteer tutoring programs, while educating volunteers on the injustice manifest in our carceral system.” Our original plan was to tutor with the College Bridge Program at SCI Phoenix. However, our tutor clearances didn’t go through and we pivoted to Beyond Literacy, a GED prep program in Philadelphia. Prior to beginning, we received training over Zoom. Topics ranged from tutoring strategies to food justice in prisons. This was also an opportunity to meet and talk with tutors from other regions. During our placement we worked with students on the Reading and Language Arts section of the GED, working through practice problems every week. This was the most memorable part of my praxis, as it was the most social and connective part of the work. Later in the semester, we also supported the College Bridge Programming from the outside by providing feedback on students assessments and serving a TA role.

It can be difficult for those on the outside to get cleared to access and bring services into prison. For us, this meant delays and eventually having to move to a program outside a facility. We did a lot of waiting to hear back from prison and there was a lot of uncertainty in the process. Another challenge was the test itself. The GED is a frustrating and tricky test that is a poor measurement of intelligence and knowledge. But with Beyond Literacy we were able to have conversations about the staggering limitations of standardized testing and how difficult our society makes educational success. While frustrating, the setbacks connected us with the people at Beyond Literacy and gave us a new opportunity. Also, they showed the persistence and kindness of the PGP who supported us throughout and worked to continue providing educational services into places that are hostile towards them.

Working within the prison system is difficult and trying work. Prisons do not want to support humanity-affirming services and inside-outside connections. This type of work is important and valuable but must exist alongside other advocacy work to dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex.  Education is both a site of harm and healing, especially for communities most directly affected by state violence. Approaching tutoring requires consideration of former schooling experiences and must center student-led approaches. The PGP team wants to foster connections and support both tutors and students. They worked hard to place us and include us in this process. In the future, I want to continue imagining what alternatives to prisons can and will exist in our world.

Theo Schefer, HC ’24

Early American Scavenger Hunt: Collection Review at Harriton House

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: HART B420 Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Feliz

Field Site: Harriton House

Field Supervisor: Laura Carpenter Myers

Praxis Poster: 

Theo Schefer_Poster_FinalSP24

 

Further Context:

Mary Jane Schmidt, BMC ’24

A Day in My Life at Monument Lab

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: HART B420 Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Feliz

Field Site: Monument Lab

Field Supervisor: Cleary Rubinos

Praxis Poster: 

MJ Praxis_Poster_Final S24

 

Further Context:

This semester I worked at Monument Lab as an  Administration and Operations Intern. Monument Lab is a Philly-based nonprofit public art and history studio that seeks to change and challenge public art through installations and public programming. As part of the Operations team, I worked mostly behind the scenes to help Monument Lab run effectively and efficiently. It was really interesting to learn about all of the somewhat hidden and very necessary tasks that go on behind the scenes of an arts-based nonprofit organization. I was able to observe and participate in a variety of departmental meetings, and additionally completed three larger projects during my internship at Monument Lab.

My first project was to find suitable vendors that might be interested in selling Monument Lab publications and internships. Monument Lab currently has a virtual store; I was looking for secondary in-person options. To complete this, I compiled a database of contemporary art museum gift shops and independent bookstores. I recently looked back at this undertaking, and I had found 135 potential locations!

My second project was assisting with the redecoration of the new office space. I sorted posters, found frames, cut out newspaper clippings for a “In the News” wall, and installed shelving inserts. It was fun to have a more hands-on project and rewarding to see the vision come together. As a nonprofit, it is important that the office space of Monument Lab be comfortable and usable for employees as well as inviting for new artists or donors, reflecting the mission and values of the organization.

To the same purpose, my final project involved working with the Monument Lab directory, a huge database of nearly everyone that the organization has interacted with, almost since inception. Due to some limitations of the current platform, the system needed to be cleaned up and prepared for a transfer to a new client relationship manager. While slightly outside of my wheelhouse, this was a very interesting project to help with and I certainly picked up some new skills.

I really enjoyed my time at Monument Lab, and am very grateful for all of the opportunities for growth and learning that I was given. It was rewarding to work with the Operations department and I really enjoyed my behind-the-scenes perspective of the organization. The Monument Lab mission is inspiring and it has been impactful to see everything that we have been learning in the fieldwork seminar reflected in real life.

Olivia Herman, BMC ’26

Layers Upon Layers: My Time in the Collections of the Penn Museum

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: HART B420 Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Feliz

Field Site: The Penn Museum

Field Supervisor: Katy Blanchard

Praxis Poster: 

OliviaHerman_Poster_FinalS24_redsize

 

Further Context:

This semester I worked in the Near Eastern Collections at the Penn Museum. My main job was to inventory objects from Beth Shean, a site in modern-day Israel excavated by the Penn Museum between 1921 and 1933. We would start the day by going down a list of all the objects that should have been in the box and making sure they were accounted for and that there were no surprises. Once everything was accounted for and any surprises were dealt with we photographed the objects and rehoused them in new bags and a new box.

This experience gave me insight into behind-the-scenes of how a museum works and what happens to the objects after they are excavated and sent to a museum. As an Archaeology major, being able to handle objects that are thousands of years old and that I have only learned about in class and seen in photos has been a great experience. Some things can only really be learned by handling objects. Handling the objects put them in a new perspective for me, seeing the mundane day-to-day objects made me think about the people who had originally owned them and made me question why this object or its significance to its original owners. It was overall a very valuable experience that taught me a lot about both working in a museum and about what information is good to gather on an excavation to help people who will later handle the object.

 

Naomi Lawrence, HC ‘24

Fieldwork at the Fabric Workshop and Museum

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: HART B420 Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Feliz

Field Site: Fabric Workshop and Museum

Field Supervisor: Christina Roberts

Praxis Poster: 

Naomi_Lawrence_Poster_Final_S24

 

Further Context:

Miko Fleming, BMC ’24

My Experience at The Print Center

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: HART B420 Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Feliz

Field Site: The Print Center

Field Supervisor: Mikaela Hawk

Praxis Poster: 

MikoFleming_Poster_Final_S24

 

Further Context:

For my Praxis Fieldwork Seminar, I underwent an internship at The Print Center — a historic non-profit art gallery nestled in a narrow cobbled street in Rittenhouse, Philadelphia. The Print Center, formerly known as The Print Club, was founded in 1915 as the first institution in the country dedicated solely to the medium of printmaking before expanding to include photography in the 1960s. Since its founding, The Print Center has sought to provide a space for art and artists typically underrepresented in the art world. Today, The Print Center continues to seek ways to support artists who push the boundaries of photography and printmaking through its
exhibitions, competitions, publications, and educational programs.

What I find most impressive about The Print Center, is its tireless contributions to an international community of printmakers and photographers, as well as creating opportunities for people in Philadelphia to engage with contemporary art and gain a deeper understanding of these
mediums. One such opportunity I have benefited from as a student, is the internship program itself. The Print Center hosts interns in revolving programs year-round, providing valuable and diverse experiences in arts administration and gallery management for young people interested in
the field who are based in and around Philadelphia. I am very grateful to have been able to take part in this internship program, I believe it to have been a genuinely valuable learning experience, lending me skills I will be able to take with me to future opportunities.