Along N. 13th St. – Albright College

Along N. 13th St.

This spring, Albright was awarded a $27,052 It’s On Us PA grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to prevent and respond to sexual assaults.

“Albright College is fortunate to have received the It’s On Us grant,” said Samantha Wesner, vice president for student and campus life. “Sexual assault prevention and education has been a focus of ours for many years.”

This funding will allow the Student and Campus Life Division to enhance its sexual assault program offerings for the male student population and will provide additional training for public safety officers and educational opportunities for the entire campus community. Several campus administrators will also participate in Title IX Coordinator/Investigator Training.

“Since launching two years ago, It’s On Us PA has helped dozens of Pennsylvania colleges and universities to develop programs to prevent sexual assault and establish campus cultures where sexual assault and harassment are not tolerated,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “The pervasiveness of sexual assault has never been clearer, and combatting sexual assault requires action. The It’s On Us PA campaign is continuing to help make our campuses across the state safer.”

As part of Albright’s proactive approach to educating the campus community about issues related to sexual assault, Albright also recently received two additional grants to support this work.

Last fall, Albright received a $289,186 grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. Projects funded through this grant are designed to enhance victim services, implement prevention and education programs, and develop and strengthen campus security and investigation strategies in order to prevent, prosecute and respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking crimes on college campuses.

Additionally, a $40,000 grant from the PA Liquor Control Board (PLCB) received last summer is helping to provide alcohol education to students. At least half of all acquaintance sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or most commonly, both. Since alcohol consumption can raise the risk of sexual assault and sexual violence, the PLCB grant allows Albright’s student peer educators to offer programming about the risks and effects of alcohol use and overuse.

“Funding from these three sources allows Albright to continue these important conversations and proactive efforts to educate the college community so  that we can increase the level of understanding and prevent sexual assault and harassment from occurring on our campus,” said Wesner.

photo of animal skeletonFour Albright students were among 50 pre-med students from 19 colleges and universities to get an inside look at medical school and opportunities in primary care through Penn State College of Medicine’s annual Primary Care Scholars program.

This selective, two-week program allows participants to spend time with medical students and primary care physicians in a variety of practice settings, learn about the medical school application process and get introduced to curriculum.

Karen Campbell, Ph.D., P. Kenneth Nase Chair of Biology and health sciences adviser, said, “This annual program provides an excellent opportunity for students to prepare stronger applications for medical school that better portray their interest and motivation. They gain feedback on their written personal statement, learn about interview skills, and have additional opportunity to experience clinical medicine,” Campbell said.

Biology and pre-med major Mara Trifoi ’20 was grateful for the opportunity to network with medical students at the Penn State College of Medicine. “I feel as though I gained a lot of insight on what other pre-medical students are doing to gain experience for medical school as well as what medical school truly entails,” Trifoi said.

Karen Alejandres ’19, also a biology and pre-med major, said she appreciated learning about the field of primary care medicine itself. “We heard various physicians tell their stories about why they chose to become primary care physicians. If I choose this field, I can be involved in research, teaching opportunities, and even practice in hospitals,” Alejandres said.

In addition to hearing the personal stories and experiences of medical students and physicians, participants also had the opportunity to shadow a family physician, general pediatrician or general internist.

“Hershey’s strong emphasis on primary care is very well-delivered,” Campbell said. “Students gain a better appreciation for the role of primary care physicians in health care teams.”

For Alejandres, participating in the Primary Care Scholars program was one of the best experiences she’s had at Albright. “This program gave me hope that I, too, can reach my goals of becoming a physician and advocate for under-represented minorities.”

photo of middle school students at lecture

Over two days in April, 432 seventh-graders from Northeast Middle School visited Albright to get a taste of college life—and hopefully the understanding that higher education is within their grasp. The students took several of their regularly scheduled classes in Albright’s academic buildings, ate lunch in the dining hall, toured campus and were able to ask questions of Albright students, including those who graduated from the Reading School District.

Research shows that young students who have a mentor have a higher probability of success and are more likely to graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education, which leads to better employment that can also break the cycle of poverty.

Albright undergraduates and students from the Reading School District have been building relationships, practicing skills, and exploring new learning opportunities since 2012 through the 13th Street Educational Partnership.

With funding from the Wyomissing Foundation, Albright volunteers are the driving force behind all program initiatives and more than 100 Albright students give of their time at partnership schools during the fall and spring semesters.

Research shows that young students who have a mentor are more likely to graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education which leads to better employment that can also break the cycle of poverty.

This year, Kindergarten classes visited the “ASPHALT Forest” on Albright’s campus to learn about plant and animal habitats and 13th and Union students helped volunteers from Albright’s Sustainability House plant a native pollinator garden. At the peak of the autumn season, second graders completed a tour of the more than 50 tree species on Albright’s campus where the second graders were able to see the difference in leaf shape, color, and shine.

Members of the Albright football team primed lockers for mural painting by Northeast Middle School students and also made weekly visits, delivering messages of motivation and leadership to middle school classes. In return for their motivational messages, Northeast Principal Alex Brown encouraged the students to give back to the Albright team members by attending the last home game of the season to cheer on the Lions. The partnership’s first rugby clinic, presented by the Albright College men’s and women’s rugby teams, was held at Albright in May to teach students from Northeast about the sport.

In addition, Albright students were paired with 13th and Union students, grades two to five, for mentoring during weekly breakfast or lunch meetings. Some mentors provided support on semester-long projects while others provided a listening ear.

Members from The Albrightian, Albright’s student newspaper, helped students at 13th and Union Elementary School create The Albrightian Jr. and middle school students to create CHAMP News, with the specific goal of enhancing the students’ writing abilities. Students worked diligently to interview staff, write stories, and find their own photography.

photo of artworkThe Freedman Gallery at Albright College has been known for featuring artists who question society and the world around them through their work. Andre Terrel Jackson ’13 is one of those artists and he brought many thought-provoking works with him as the featured artist for Albright’s Freedman Gallery from March 20 to April 22.

Jackson, who graduated with a fashion degree, was invited back to Albright to feature his creative work, which has been inspired by his life, his experiences as an Albrightian, and his views on sexuality, gender, and race.

Jackson’s exhibit, Fashioning Identities: Remixed, featured a variety of photography, crochet, weaving, apparel, print design and poetry, all representative of his life experiences and how he identifies himself. While Jackson’s goal was to express his own identity through his work, he hoped that it would inspire audiences to question theirs even more. “I want people to think about their own experiences with identity, and I hope that people will see the level of introspection within my work and be able to begin a similar process for themselves,” said Jackson. “If I am able to get people to think critically about topics such as antiblackness, ephebiphobia, and homophobia through my work, that is an incredible feat. However, I also accept people who only see the objects I make as beautiful because it allows for deeper conversations to develop from there.”

Jackson is an artist who challenges himself, thinks about his art in a different way and believes his liberal arts education at Albright has influenced his artistic journey. He was deeply influenced by a black women writing class taught by English professor, Teresa Gilliams, Ph.D.

“I saw a lot of similarities in the experiences of black women who face a matrix of discrimination through gender and race, and my experiences as a black queer person,” Jackson expressed. “Having that exposure to critical race theory and black feminist writing, it makes sense that I would be interested in applying the theory of intersectionality, a theory coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to my exploration of self-identification.”

David Tanner, director of the Center for the Arts, said he is excited to see what Jackson will do next. “I knew Andre as a fashion student and have followed his path after graduation. The work he completed for his master’s thesis in fibers at the Savannah College of Art & Design is remarkable and timely given its focus on race, gender, and sexuality identity,” said Tanner. “I’m overwhelmed and grateful for the time Andre spent in crafting the work, coming to install the exhibition, and in talking with our visitors and students about his process and themes.”

“I want people to think about their own experiences with identity…I hope that people will see the introspection within my work and begin a similar process” – Andre Terrel Jackson ’13

APO group photo

The co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega completed 952 hours of service this spring! Fraternity member Tyler Moseley ’18 said the group works with organizations such as Opportunity House, YMCA, Boy Scouts, VoiceUp Berks, Humane Society, Safe Berks, Habitat for Humanity, 13th and Union Elementary School, local food banks, as well as campus events and community clean-ups. “My best experience this semester was cooking for about 70 people at Opportunity House. It was a lot of fun and we helped so many people in just a few hours. Being a part of Alpha Phi Omega has made me a better person.”

Photo of students preparing taxesAlbright students made tax season a bit brighter for some Berks County residents this year.

Through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, 14 students served as certified tax preparers, providing clients with free tax preparation.

“In class, students learn about taxation by filling out hypothetical returns. This program provides practical experience and gives the students a sense of giving back to the community as well,” said Joseph Cunningham, assistant professor of accounting.

Working with clients referred through Berks Encore, an organization that helps aging-confident individuals to enhance their lives, Albright students began preparing in January with IRS training and certification and started meeting with clients in early February. Throughout tax season, students met with clients every Tuesday and Thursday night in Roessner Hall.

“The program not only gives students practical experience in completing tax returns, it also builds social and communication skills, and provides experience working with clients, all skills that job seekers are expected to have,” said Cunningham.

Dalton Weller ’18, president of the Accounting Club, knows the experience he’s gained will help him long after graduation. He already has a job lined up with a local CPA firm and is grateful for the customer service skills he learned serving as a greeter for clients when they arrived. “The program is a great way for Albright students to give back to the Reading community, while also gaining first-hand experience within our fields,” said Weller. “It’s going to benefit me with the problem solving of someone not bringing the correct form, or somebody not understanding the tax form. I’ll be able to help them through that,” he said.

Accounting student Tram Chu ’18 said being able to take the skills she’s learned in the classroom and apply them to real-life experience has been rewarding. She’s also grateful to be able to help the community. “I could help them to save a lot of money,” she said. “It’s (tax preparation) expensive, and some people cannot afford to do that.”

Through the VITA program, which is in its third year at Albright, residents with an income of less than $54,000 may receive free tax preparation and filing assistance from certified volunteers. According to Cunningham, this service normally costs $400 to $500 through a professional company.

“The VITA program at Albright is a win-win for the student, the college and the community,” he said.

This past spring, six faculty members were presented with awards for their outstanding accomplishments in the classroom, in scholarship and in service to students.

Brenda Ingram-Wallace, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology – Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award

Janice Rodriguez, M.A., instructor of Spanish – United Methodist Division of Higher Education Exemplary Teaching Award

Teresa Gilliams, Ph.D., associate professor of English – Dr. Henry P. and M. Paige Laughlin Annual Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching

Matt Sonntag, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry – Class of 1949 Annadora Vesper Shirk Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship

Samira Mehta, Ph.D., assistant professor of religious studies – Dr. Henry P. and M. Paige Laughlin Annual Distinguished Award for Scholarship

Roberto Mandanici, C.P.A., C.M.A., C.F.M., assistant professor of accounting, School of Professional Studies – Melinda Riccio ’94 Memorial Excellence in Teaching Award

As part of Albright’s ongoing commitment to an equitable, inclusive and thriving community where everyone enjoys full participation, a series of more than 20 events were held during Diversity Week in April. These events, led by Albright’s Council for an Inclusive, Thriving and Equitable Community (CITEC), were designed to promote cultural exchange and encourage conversation.

CITE-C, which is advisory to the president, serves in a leadership role on campus in understanding, communicating, and demonstrating by example the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and equity in all its dimensions. CITE-C aspires to clearly communicate the message that, at Albright, all people are valued.

The Council for an Inclusive, Thriving and Equitable Community (CITEC) helps communicate the message that, at Albright, all people are valued.