Learning to Become an Advocate for Community Engagement with Upward Bound

Greta Karisny

Greta Karisny
Advocate for Community Engagement

When I first heard about the Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) program through the Leo T. McCarthy Center, I knew it would be an incredibly unique opportunity for me to explore my passions surrounding social justice. As a Sociology major at the University of San Francisco, I spend most of my days talking about inequality among races, classes, genders, etc. However, with all these problems presented to me daily, it has been hard to find action to create change. Becoming an ACE and working with my community partner, Upward Bound, have been wonderful resources for me over the past two months in developing my passions towards social justice and identifying how I to put these passions into action.

The community partner that I am working directly with this semester is Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS). This organization gives a number of important resources to students in economically and educationally disadvantaged high schools in order to help them strive in a university setting. While I am only a couple months into working with UBMS, I have already gained a more practical perspective of both education inequality in San Francisco and the difficulties that arise within non-profit organizations. It has helped me take the statistics and practical knowledge I have gained around racial, economic, and social inequality and apply it to the real world.

Within my initial ACE training I’ve gained a better idea of how I can use both my experience working with Upward Bound and the experience of the UBMS service-learners and apply them to larger issues of inequality and social justice in San Francisco and across the nation. The training itself maintained an open dialogue where I felt comfortable asking questions and discussing hard topics like racial oppression and economic inequality.

The day of service at the San Francisco Food Bank made these open discussions particularly important and meaningful. While I have done single-day trips to food banks and soup kitchens before, having a post-service reflection made the experience far more meaningful. The reflection made all of us critically question why this service is necessary and who this service benefits. While the day started as a simple act of service, it ended with a far more comprehensive understanding of why we serve. This is something that I hope to bring forward with my role as an ACE for Upward Bound, the students that serve it, and the community it affects.

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