Summer Centered: Erica Fenton '22 Works to Address Higher Education Inequities
The sociology major interned with College Together, a nonprofit that works to make college more accessible to Philadelphia students.
Erica Fenton is preparing for a career in nonprofit social work as a CPGC-sponsored intern at College Together. The local nonprofit was founded by Oscar Wang ’14 while he was still a student at Haverford and today aims to make college accessible for low-income students and to support them during their higher education journey. College Together (CT) helps Philadelphia-area students earn their associate's or bachelor's degrees online via Southern New Hampshire University through real-world, project-based work on CT’s in-person campus. It provides academic support, helping students navigate financial aid and job placements, and connects students to resources to relieve concerns like food insecurity or homelessness.
Fenton’s assignment this summer included creating a “Basic Needs Resource list” for CT’s students.
“There are many organizations in Philadelphia that offer services for low-income individuals, but navigating these resources can be difficult,” she said. “With this project, I am creating a resource which students can use to find free meals, healthcare, medical care, mental health services, housing, child care, utilities, and cash assistance, as well as services specifically for LGBTQ individuals, undocumented people, people with disabilities, and other identities. This document will streamline the process of accessing resources for students who need support, and I am excited to be working on a project that will continue to impact students and grow after I finish my fellowship.”
After taking “Sociology of Higher Education” this past spring, Fenton was drawn to CT’s work in higher education and its emphasis on addressing systemic inequities in the industry. The sociology major, psychology minor, and peace, justice, and human rights concentrator, will continue her education work in the classroom this fall as part of the “Education Community Learning Collaborative.” This course combines in-class discussion of educational practice, research, theory, and policy and with student fieldwork in local schools.
“Following my fellowship, I am excited to stay connected with people rethinking education in Philadelphia and bring insights from my fellowship into the classroom,” she said. “My coworkers at College Together each have unique experiences to share about their careers as students and/or educators in Philadelphia and I look forward to sharing these insights that may not be available in textbooks or course readings.”
Fenton was able to work in person at College Together’s University City office, where she connected with coworkers, met CT students, and enjoyed the office’s fun, collaborative environment. She also experienced what it is like to live in the city this summer.
“I am from the suburbs, so this is my first time living in a city. I have really enjoyed exploring restaurants, parks, and markets with friends,” she said. “There are actually a lot of Haverford students and recent graduates living here, and it has been fun to connect with them and share our favorite spots in Philly.
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ campus-supported summer work.