This is the fourth year that VCU students have traded their spring break flip flops and shorts for a week of participating with ASPiRE’s Urban Plunge program. Ten students and two ASPiRE staff members spent the week exploring Richmond's history, learning about the critical issues facing Richmond Public Schools, and participating in a community service project with the children at Blue Sky Fund as a part of the program.
“ASPiRE’s Urban Plunge program is based on the premise that for students to truly understand community engagement they must experience it from various dimensions,” said Nannette Bailey, ASPiRE community partnership coordinator. Every year the program focuses on a different social issue impacting the Richmond community. Last year, the focus was health disparities.
For the ten students, spring break involved talking with school board member Liz Doerr regarding her perspective as a citizen representative and with Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, Dr. Dana Bedden, regarding his perspective as the head of the school system. The students also met with Reverend Benjamin Campbell, author of Richmond’s Unhealed History and Judge Roger Gregory, Chief Judge of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as other noted community leaders.
ASPiRE student Immanuel Hart said that he was impressed with Judge Roger Gregory and especially the judge’s statement that you can’t find the answers to many of the challenges until you ask the right questions.
“One of the questions for me is what does community mean,” he said. “Urban Plunge taught me more about the meaning of community and how to serve my community in even more ways so it can be better for the young people in Richmond who may eventually be here at VCU.”
“Urban Plunge was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, said Globe student Jailyn William. “I learned so much from it, and I'm so glad I participated.”
The other students who participated in Urban Plunge included Gauri Sharma, Kitana Usher, Kassidy Branson, Lacey Brooks, Karisma Graham, Brianna Howard, Tabitha Kelly, and Bryauna Kralik.
For more information, contact Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.