Throughout her freshman year at Vanderbilt, Bridget nurtured an interest in education reform that followed her from her high school years. Early on, she volunteered as a tutor alongside several Ingram Scholar peers at various schools and organizations. At the end of her first semester, she was asked to take on a leadership role with The Afterschool Program (TAP), a tutoring/mentoring program in North Nashville. Bridget delighted in accepting the position, and in the work that followed. She served as a program coordinator for Spring and Fall 2013, and was also a part of the summer 2013 staff as an elementary math instructor and co-director. From working hands on with the students to more behind the scenes on organizational development, Bridget’s experience working with TAP was invaluable. Not only did she learn and apply new skills related to working with children and managing organizations, but also she grew in her understanding of the hard realities of social change, and how she wants to be a part of it.
Moreover, after a continuous reflection cycle on the links between her academic and community engagement, as well as her professional goals, Bridget decided to discontinue her leadership with TAP. She remained a volunteer in the Spring of 2014; however, she deeply enjoyed the new freedom to think about the world and problem solving outside the lenses of education and out-of-school time. There was a great deal of uncertainty that accompanied this change, but in it, Bridget found new and rejuvenated direction for her dreams.
Furthermore, with the generosity and technical support of the Ingram Scholarship Program, Bridget is spending the Summer 2014 working with the Omaha Data Collaborative on building a system where human service organizations (namely out-of-school time agencies) will have access to multiple sources of data that will help them to better identify what they are doing, who they are serving, how often they are serving their clients, and what impact is being made. With this kind of system building, also comes the need for capacity building among and across agencies in regards to data-centric cultures, processes, programs, and decision-making.
Overall, Bridget looks forward to returning to Nashville for her junior year with a new and fervent interest in collective impact initiatives, and the importance of how we evaluate them. She is excited about beginning work as a part of the Student Advisory Board for the Office of Active Citizenship and Service; and hopes to collaborate with faculty on community-based research. Bridget is eternally grateful for the profound lessons the Ingram Scholarship Program has taught her about the world and about herself; and for the support they have and will continue to extend in the evolution of the many meanings and manifestations of service in her life at Vanderbilt and beyond.