Testimonials from UMass Boston Students
Working with Cristian showed me that youth organizing is just as much about love, family, and community as it is about “fighting” injustice. On a personal level, Cristian’s sincerity, commitment, and clear eye towards injustice has pushed me to more critically examine how my own work and personal actions contribute (or sometimes don’t contribute) to social justice. Thank you for this meaningful experience!
I had a truly powerful and inspiring experience making bonds with organizers and youth leaders at the Labor/Community Strategy Center and facilitating the documentation of Brigette’s journeys as an organizer. The stories of Brigette, her colleagues, and fellow nation-wide youth leaders fighting for police-free schools should serve as a testament to the indispensable leadership and boldness that young people bring to social movements. Their work encourages me to continue building ideal futures within my communities, as these young people do everyday.
A course like this one is why I decided to go back to school to pursue a PhD. To be able to actually participate in something much larger than myself, and to see the world through others’ eyes has been so meaningful. I personally believe that ALL research should involve the community it studies, to some extent. This class has shown me a direction to pursue for myself, and I will always be grateful for that.
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to interview a fourteen-year-old up-and-coming youth leader, not only because of her experience, but also because I felt very humbled. The self-confidence and ambition I saw in Brielka was empowering. I believe an understanding and pursuit of a common goal can create a powerful community. The teamwork and collaboration I experienced throughout our course project – despite having to conduct every step of the way in a virtual environment – encouraged and reassured me that by working together, anything is possible. Not only was I inspired by my classmates and their dedication, drive, and commitment throughout this project, but I was especially inspired by the youth I got to know through our course project. As a white European woman, I have not experienced the forms of discrimination many of the youth shared with us, but by being able to listen to them and elevate their stories, I was able to feel like I became a part of their involvement in the police-free schools movement. I felt that even without personal experience could I get involved in supporting and advocating for social justice.
I am grateful for having had a safe space to engage with my classmates, my professor, and the young individuals across the U.S. Community-engaged research is so much more than just research; it is creating and maintaining strong relationships and bonds with “participants” that are built on high levels of respect. Respect not only for the work that individuals pursue, but also for them as human beings. I learned that humanizing work is substantially more important than producing research reports, and I will continue to strive for humanizing my own research in the future.
Jessica De Jesus Acevedo
Being a part of the student-led research team and listening to youth leaders’ stories was an eye-opening experience as an early childhood educator and entrepreneur. The project-based course has encouraged students like me to conduct research and learn about young advocate’s solutions for strategic changes in our education systems.
I am grateful for the opportunity to meet Ashzianna, a student activist involved in the No Cops in School movement. She advocates for her community with passion and sincerity. She showed me the importance of voice by example and helped me be confident in speaking up through collaborating on this project. I hope that a willingness to embrace alternative programs will yield great innovation and new knowledge.
This semester’s course on community-based and participatory research provided a new perspective on what research is and can be, and ways participatory research can be used as a tool to create lasting and meaningful relationships with the community. Coming from the Urban Planning and Community Development graduate program here at UMass Boston, a program heavily influenced by Ken Reardon’s advocacy planning, this course’s participatory research focus has further connected me with a better understanding of what it means to be an advocacy-minded planner. Being connected with smart and passionate young people, and getting to hear their stories and their ideas, I feel like I am more committed to fight for justice and equity, in both my professional and personal life.
Alyson “Aly” Boyd
Community-based participatory research immerses you within the research, as a part of the research. It presents you with a new perspective and serves a larger purpose. It’s one of those courses that provides you with an ‘A-ha moment’ and you wonder how you ever thought differently.