Community-Academic Scholar: Hannah Caraway (she/her)
Project: Hannah worked with Professor Warren Lavey and the Champaign County Forest Preserve District to develop recommendations for improving the health of disadvantaged people in the county through greater access to CCFPD’s natural and other resources. Learn more about the project.
Mentor reflection: "Hannah's passion for researching and learning more about the community was a joy to experience. This was evident in every conversation that we had with her as she described her efforts, especially her value of community centered work. Hannah’s extensive and evidence-driven work on this project will further our district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work and the evidence she gathers will inform how we proceed from this point on.
Student reflection: "This project allowed me to connect with the Urbana-Champaign area in many meaningful ways. I have gotten to meet with many diverse community organizations and understand their passions, goals, and motivations. I now have a better understanding of how I can help to make the Urbana-Champaign community a more welcome and accessible place for everyone."
How did working on this project change your understanding of your research topic or your relationship to the Champaign-Urbana community?
This project allowed me to connect to the Urbana-Champaign area in many meaningful ways. I got to meet with many diverse community organizations and understand their passions, goals, and motivations. I now have a better understanding of how I can help make the Urbana-Champaign community a more welcome and accessible place for everyone. Additionally, this program allowed me to forge connections to the communities outside of university life.
How did participating in this program help you toward your goals?
First, I gained many research skills. I participated in bacterial research studies on campus concurrently with my community-academic scholar work, which allowed me to deepen my understanding of research and make my future research endeavors much more well-rounded. I am hoping to become a physician in the future and the skills I learned in this program gave me the foundation to conduct research that is equitable, impactful, and important in my future career.
What advice do you have for future scholars or to those who are interested in applying for the program?
I would tell them to find the project that speaks to them the most! Community-based research is very powerful when the researcher is excited and passionate about their subject matter. Your work has the potential to positively impact many members of the community so you must use your passion to do the best you possibly can!