Jena Angeliadis C’17

Jena is majoring in Economics and French with a minor in Political Science. She will be pursuing advanced professional training in law and business with the goal ultimately of becoming general counsel for large financial firm. Jena most appreciated the sense of community being a civic scholar gave her as a Drew student, but also the networking opportunities and the springboard it provided for her to pursue her passion to advocate against human trafficking.

“My favorite experience as a civic was my first-year civic project. In spring of 2014 I organized a very successful awareness event entitled “Drew Stands against Human Trafficking.”  This event featured the Director of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking, a victim/survivor of human trafficking, and Detective Leah Atterbury from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office who spoke about their involvement in the fight against human trafficking. Not only did I educate over 200 people at the event, but I also strengthened relationships with the organizations and people who share my beliefs.  It enhanced my social, communication, and organizational skills immensely. ” Jena’s senior civic project continues her commitment to this issue though a symposium for teachers co-sponsored with Drew’s education program and the NJ Coalition against Human Trafficking.

According to Jena, being a civic scholar helped her stand out in every interview, meet and share experiences and interests with like-minded Drew students and community members, and to interconnect her studies with civic engagement through internship with The Shakespeare Theater of NJ, Legal Services of NJ, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission and the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking

Jonathan Van Dongen C’17

VRC Trip 2Jonathan is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Political Science. Follwing graduation, he will be a 2017 Mississippi Regional Corps Member in Teach for America, teaching secondary mathematics and/or social science to 7–12th graders in the Mississippi public school districts. He initially became a Civic Scholar because of his engagement with service throughout middle school and high school, not anticipating that this program would “become as foundational in my undergraduate experience as it has become. I knew that I wanted the opportunity to formalize my volunteerism; however, the Civic Scholars program has become an integral part of my personal identity and has literally reshaped my life’s pursuits and aspirations.” In particular, Jonathan has found that the experiences he has had through the Civic Scholars program have augmented his academic experience, personal relationships, and professional networking in ways he had never previously thought. For example, Jonathan explains that “I particularly benefitted from the Community-Based Learning (CBL) courses, such as Social Policy and Inequality in America taught by Prof. Patrick McGuinn, in addition to the first-year community service seminar—as these classes brought my love for academics together with service in ways I’d not previously considered.”

Jonathan also served as a coordinator for Drew’s student-run Volunteer Resource Center, organizing volunteer trips during school breaks. After a service trip to New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, he realized how important the government was in helping these communities, and so sought and was awarded an internship with Senator Cory Booker’s office in Newark. He has also worked with special needs children and explored his future career though a stint as a substitute teacher.

His senior civic project addresses another passion of Jonathan’s, mental health advocacy: “I’ve realized that this is an under-addressed social problem that significantly contributes to suicide, high school and college dropout rates, drug abuse, unemployment, and many other underlying social issues.” Partnering with on-campus clubs and departments, as well as the nation organization, Active Minds, Jonathan is organizing a “mental health CPR” program, entitled “QPR,” that trains participants to “Question, Persuade, and Respond” in order to empower them to engage in effective mental health conversations and referrals.

Samantha Lacey C’17

Samantha is a psychology major who will be entering her first-choice graduate program in organizational psychology in the fall of 2017.  She is currently completing on Honors Thesis  titled “Stereotype Threat and the Financial Decision-Making Abilities of Older Adults,” but her interest in assisting the elderly reaches back to her first year as a Civic Scholar. Sam’s first-year civic project team created an event for residents of a local senior housing project that they called “Swinging on a Star.” She and her team members organized multiple campus music groups to provide and evening of entertainment. For her sophomore internship, Sam created a drama therapy program for older adults with neurodegenerative diseases at an adult day care. The conference presentation she submitted focused on the practices she found most useful, has been accepted for inclusion in the 2017 Eastern Sociological Society’s annual conference.

For her senior civic project Sam has been working with her major professor, Patrick Dolan, to plan and present a series of workshops on financial decision-making and fraud prevention to seniors and on healthy aging and memory. For her most recent workshop, over eighty senior citizens have registered. While the senior citizens of Madison and Chatham NJ have benefited greatly from Sam’s work, she has also presented her findings to alumni, professors and students at Shark Tank–the economics and business presentation event that is held every semester. Among the forty people in this audience a manager from The Bank of New York who has been mentoring her ever since, helping her think about how to extend her work on preventing fraud among seniors to issues of fraud within a corporation.

As a Civic Scholar and a Baldwin Honors Scholar, Samantha Lacey has taken advantage of a full array of opportunities at Drew. By connecting her academic interests with hands-on work in the community she was able to explore what working with seniors would be like, confirm her commitment to that population and discover a career path that will let her combine, knowledge, empathy, and action.