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A Very Active Citizen

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Graduate Erica Satin-Hernández, a former Tisch Scholar and Active Citizenship Summer fellow, has a profound commitment to civic engagement.

Tisch Scholar alumna Erica Satin-Hernández

“Active citizenship means being aware of who you are, what you do, and how that impacts communities,” said Erica Satin-Hernandez, A13. “It’s doing what is needed in a lot of different contexts and capacities.”

Satin-Hernandez exemplifies her definition. As an undergraduate, she was a Tisch Scholar, Active Citizenship Summer (ACS) Fellow, civil rights intern at Community Change, Inc., writing tutor, and the teaching assistant for the Education for Active Citizenship course for first year Scholars. A winner of the Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service, Satin-Hernandez wrote her senior thesis using critical race theory to examine the way multi-raciality has been constructed in law.

Building off this robust undergraduate experience, this summer Satin-Hernandez is working as the coordinator of Tisch College’s ACS: Massachusetts program. In this role, Satin-Hernandez is supporting 17 students who are working full time at community organizations in Tufts’ host communities of Medford, Somerville, and Boston’s Chinatown.

“I love getting to see the fellow’s passion and potential, how ready they are to get in and do the work,” she said.  “I want to make sure they have the kinds of great experiences that I did.”

Her experience as a Tisch Scholar played a central role in preparing Satin-Hernandez for her current work. A multi-year, developmental, leadership program, the Tisch Scholars program consciously builds knowledge and skills year-by-year, so students can effectively understand community assets, identify root causes of issues, enter communities as outsiders and manage projects.

For Satin-Hernandez, her experience as an undergraduate prepared her for working with and educating people from diverse backgrounds in a range of service and research endeavors.

As a Sophomore Tisch Scholar, Satin-Hernandez worked with The Welcome Project, an immigrant advocacy and education group in Somerville.  Supporting their “YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City” program, she helped to promote local immigrant-owned restaurants and assisted bilingual youth in exploring and accessing healthy food and exercise.

“I really value building relationships, and the opportunity to champion people who are doing important work, and help them troubleshoot issues that arise,” she said.

The following summer, she was an ACS fellow at the Somerville Promise Alliance. A city-wide campaign focused on the children of Somerville, the effort brought together the mayor, public schools, Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, the Somerville Housing Authority, and many local non-profit providers. Examining the well-being of preschool and kindergarten aged children, Satin-Hernandez tracked and analyzed data on education outcomes, and presented findings to Somerville’s Board of Aldermen.

“I learned so much from those experiences,” she said.  “I hadn’t done that kind of applied data analysis before, and I definitely hadn’t had the chance to work closely with city government and see it up close.”

In her junior year, she was back at The Welcome Project, where she supported a study on immigrant obesity and worked with community organizations to explore interventions. She also interned with the civil rights organization Community Change, Inc., where Cassie Webb, A14, is now serving as an ACS Fellow.

In her senior year, Satin-Hernandez applied all the skills she’d developed, working on an American Studies senior honors thesis for her scholar project and also serving as a teaching assistant for the course Education for Active Citizenship.

“Being a teaching assistant and now working with ACS has really brought it all together for me,” said Satin-Hernandez.  “It’s been a great opportunity to combine academic and peer mentoring. I feel lucky to get to develop personal connections with students and their experiences.”