Naomi Rubin DeVeaux, German, Class of 1992

DeVeaux worked for Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), a D.C. public charter school board that drives reform through protecting the autonomy and increasing the quality of D.C.’s public charter schools. DeVeaux hoped to educate poor, minority, and disenfranchised youth at high levels so they could equally compete for spots at the best workplaces and colleges. “[This] is at the heart of building a sustainable society,” she says.

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Maya Scherr-Wilson, Spanish Literature, Class of 2013

As a recipient of a McGill Lawrence Summer Internship Award, Scherr-Wilson will work with the foundation La Isla, in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua this summer. La Isla’s main objective is to support the communities in the area that have been afflicted by Chronic Kidney Disease, which affects 70% of the local population. The foundation works with local institutions to do epidemiologic research, educate workers, and support impacted families through community development projects. At the foundation, Scherr-Wilson will conduct research on human rights abuses by contributing to and analyzing a database of those abuses and of health surveys in the surrounding communities in order to propose direct intervention to aid families in need of medical or other support. Scherr-Wilson will also use her skills as a tutor, counselor, and mentor, to teach public health classes and English lessons to the children of the community in order to foster dialogues about Chronic Kidney Disease. She also looks forward to being exposed to fascinating issues of environmental conservation and education, international law, community development, and human rights advocacy and to the opportunity to further develop her Spanish skills. Scherr-Wilson writes, “I believe that this two-pronged approach of working directly with the community in addition to doing analytic work with the organization, which has the ability to implement change, will create a sustainable outcome for the lives of the people of Chichigalpa and surrounding areas.”

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Mathias Quackenbush, Psychology, Class of 2011

Throughout nearly his entire time at Reed, Quackenbush volunteered as a mentor with SEEDS LASER Program, working both with groups and one-on-one. He was also a classroom intern and ran study skills groups to help support and motivate middle schoolers to stay engaged and successful at school. Later, inspired by Kris Anderson’s Clinical Psychology Class, Quackenbush began volunteering with Oregon Partnership’s Suicide Prevention, Drug and Alcohol, Military Veterans, and Youth crisis lines, providing mental health resources and emotional support to callers. Quakenbush also volunteered with VOZ, teaching English to Spanish-speaking immigrant day laborers in Northeast Portland.

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Margot Minardi, Assistant Professor, History & Humanities

Minardi volunteers with the Portland chapter of Minds Matter, a one-on-one college preparation mentoring program that matches high-potential students from low-income families with committed adult mentors. Minds Matter is a three year program that allows for relationships between mentors/mentees to be meaningful and lasting. Minardi believes that, especially in light of current political struggles that equate education with elitism, it should be part of the college’s mission to “make it clear why the intellectual work in college really matters and what it can accomplish in the rest of the world.”

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Lizaveta Élan Segal Randall, Anthropology, Class of 1993

Randall was most recently part of a team of educators who launched and taught at a dual-language immersion school within Denver Public Schools called José Valdez Elementary. By helping the school better meet the needs of its Spanish-speaking students, the team hoped to help the underperforming public school at large.

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Kelly Thomas, English, Class of 2011

In the summer of 2011, Thomas interned at La Catalina Educational Foundation (LCEF) in La Manzanilla, Mexico. LCEF is an organization dedicated to increasing literacy rates and providing free English language learning and job training resources to local people trying to support themselves and their families amidst a changing economy that generally requires extended education.

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Julie Maxfield, Director of Academic Support Services

Maxfield participated in Partnerships for Student Achievement through AmeriCorps. From 2002-2004, Maxfield served at an “at-risk” high-school in Beaverton as a tutor and mentor, and the subsequent year she was hired as one of their Special Education Instructional Aides. During these years, she also volunteered with the KBOO community radio station to help Oregon teenagers write radio and she facilitated a creative writing workshop at Jean’s Place, a transitional housing shelter for women in the Portland area. At Reed, Maxfield has served on a number of voluntary committees and appreciates the spirit of informal collaboration she has witnessed among faculty and staff. Maxfield believes that there is ample opportunity to better support students, both individuals and identity groups, on campus. She says, “We need to make Reed a safe place for all peoples’ voices to be heard, and if we’re not hearing from certain groups, that may mean that we’re not there yet.”

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Jan Liss, Psychology, Class of 1974, Graduated in 1973, current member of Reed’s Board of Trustees

After graduating from Reed, Jan Liss bounced around from the Portland Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Athens Institute, and thus developed an extensive background in non-profit management. In 2005, Liss joined Project Pericles, an organization dedicated to incorporating civic engagement and social responsibility into undergraduate and higher education. Project Pericles was initially a vision articulated by Eugene Lang, who was concerned that college students were not concerned enough with being good citizens. Lang wanted to start an organization in affiliation with colleges and universities around the United States that would integrate social and civic responsibility into academia.

Today, Project Pericles works with 29 colleges and universities to implement programs, curriculums, and resources that help students to become engaged citizens. Project Pericles believes that by creating and supporting more informed and responsible citizens, society will become more just and compassionate. Working within higher education, the organization blends academic knowledge with application. Liss explains that through merging activism with their studies, “students are given the tools to solve hunger rather than just serving soup in a soup kitchen.”

In addition to the programs instituted on campus, Project Pericles organizes programs that bring students from across the United States to conferences where they can share their work with one another and gather resources to put their goals into action. Through talking to organizations around the country, connecting with other educated individuals, finding and making connections with politicians, and creating reform movements, students learn how to successfully make an impact on their communities. Liss is inspired by these students who attempt to solve issues so much greater than themselves. She says, “Intelligent and well-educated people owe it to the country, if not the world, to use their knowledge to make a difference.”

Throughout her career, Liss has sought out experiences where she herself feels she is making a difference. She says, “It is not good enough to be able to say how much I’m learning, or how much I’m making, or how much I’m building a future career, or how much I’m networking; for me, I need to be able to say this is what I’m doing to make a difference.” Project Pericles provides an outlet for Liss to feel good about the work she is doing and to help students attain the same sense of fulfillment.

Although Reed is not a member institution of Project Pericles, Liss continues her engagement with Reed as a member of the board. She believes that Reed provides a unique academic setting and community and hopes  to see more Reedies active in making a difference in their communities. She says, “College is supposed to prepare you to be a good educated citizen. Taking classes and dealing with only the hypothetical is not nearly as powerful as actually experiencing these scenarios. You can learn the academic material better when you’re learning it in a real world context.”

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Gwendolyn White, Anthropology, Class of 2007

White works for Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). IRCO’s mission is to promote integration of immigrants and refugees into a self-sufficient, healthy, and inclusive multiethnic community. White coordinates the SUN Community School through IRCO, which offers opportunities outside of the school for students, their families, and community members.

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Heidi Whitehouse, History and Literature, Class of 2013

As the Youth & Education intern for SEEDS, Whitehouse coordinates the Friends of the Children tutoring program at Reed, matching Reedies with 3rd through 5th grade students for tutoring in math, reading, writing, and other areas as needed. After transferring from a low-income high school to a high-income high school, Whitehouse began to understand the ways in which the quality of public education correlates to socioeconomic status and how college education is disproportionally encouraged for members of certain communities and neighborhoods. These experiences affirmed Whitehouse’s committed to increasing education accessibility. She says, “The United States public education is too big and entrenched a system for an individual like me to attempt to change, but for the moment my position with SEEDS allows me to attempt redistributing the wealth (of my own educational privilege) a little bit to less advantaged kids.” Whitehouse also volunteers as an ESL teacher at VOZ Worker’s Rights Project where she reads with elementary school students who struggle with literacy, and participates in SEEDS weekend service trips to local domestic abuse shelters and food banks.

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