As Coordinator of the Civic Engagement Office's Praxis III program from 2010-2014, Jessica Lee helped Bryn Mawr students match their interests with the needs of the community to create internships that provided useful and compelling experiences. "The Praxis III Program is an excellent opportunity for students to chart their own course and to engage with communities in the Greater Philadelphia area," Jessica says. "It enables students to gain entirely new skill sets and to explore their talents and interests."
As a Ph.D. candidate at Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Jessica's own interests are diverse and involve immigrant and refugee health care, global public health, social policy, and research ethics. Her dissertation is a qualitative study titled, “Health Care Utilization among Bhutanese Refugee Adults: Exploring Culture, Access, and Needs." But like the students she works with in Praxis, Jessica does not limit herself to only academic pursuits. In 2013, Jessica received the Turning Point Prize, awarded by Women for Social Innovation. With this funding, Jessica is piloting a community-based participatory textile program with the Burmese refugee community in collaboration with Nationalities Service Center. This project is expanding into the Philadelphia Refugee Textile Initiative, which will work in collaboration with Philadelphia Mural Arts, Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative, and MADE Studio.
By going out into the community, students in the Praxis program are able to make connections between their classroom experiences and the "real world." "I think the most meaningful aspect of the Praxis III Program are the relationships that students get to build-- relationships with mentors, colleagues, and individuals in professional and community settings, relationships with a faculty advisor, relationships with other students in the Praxis III cohort, etc." Jessica says. "The Reflection dinners are incredibly enjoyable and the culminating Praxis III Poster Session allows students to step up as scholars and engaged community members."