REVERSING THE BRAIN DRAIN: HAVERFORD HOUSE ENCOURAGES GRADS TO STICK AROUND PHILLY
After commencement, Haverford students follow different paths. Some continue their educations at graduate school, while others head straight for the career world. Five recent alums, though, serve the city of Philadelphia. These former Haverfordians are Fellows at Haverford House. For one year following graduation, they live together and volunteer at various agencies that focus on housing, the environment, literacy, immigration, and other issues. The 2004-2005 Fellows are: Amalie Andrew, Alexander Craig, JeAnne Reyes, Kyle Smiddie, and Paige Widick. They will give their time and talents to American Friends Service Committee, the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, the Friends Neighborhood Guild, and the People's Emergency Center.
Haverford House, which is now in its third year, was created by Associate Professor of General Programs Kaye Edwards. She was inspired by Quaker Experimental Service and Training, or QuEST, a post-baccalaureate service program in Seattle. Says Edwards,“I wanted to set up a QuEST in the East and have it focus on Haverford and our urban neighbors.” Although there are other residential service programs, Haverford House is the only one exclusively for alums from one particular college. Edwards also credits her personal volunteer work with the Quaker Ministry for Persons with AIDS, and her experience coordinating undergrad internships at public health agencies with planting the idea for this new program.
In the winter of their senior years, applicants apply for the program, indicating their top three placement choices. A committee of Mary Lou Allen, head of 8th Dimension, Steve McGovern, Assistant Professor of Political Science, and Edwards reads the applications and interviews select candidates. This year, 16 students applied for the five slots. In the summer after graduation, they move into a house in the Fairmount neighborhood, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This location was chosen for its safety, proximity to public transportation, and above all, its diversity. Fellows have come from a variety of majors, including political science, history, growth and structure of cities, English, psychology, and sociology. One thing they have in common, however, is a commitment to community service. During their undergraduate years, the Fellows led 8th Dimension projects, held Center for Peace and Global Citizenship summer service internships, and participated in other volunteer opportunities. Following their year at Haverford House, several alums have been hired full-time by their agencies, allowing them to continue their social justice work.
Recently, there has been an increased demand from agencies to become involved in Haverford House.“This is an exciting time for the program. We're poised to expand,” says Edwards, referring to the plan to add an additional house and five more Fellows. All this is remarkable considering many current students are unaware of the program. Edwards is working to change that. Faculty members publicize Haverford House, and Fellows act as mentors to current students. Nora Cohen, a 2003-2004 Fellow, hosted a Customs group at her service site, the Village of Arts and Humanities. Edwards hopes to arrange similar opportunities in the future.
According to Edwards, one goal of the program is to develop crucial service leadership skills.“Haverford has a long-standing commitment to social justice,” says Edwards. The year spent at Haverford House gives alums the“opportunity to test out the theories they learned in the classroom.” Haverford House also works to reverse the brain drain, the flight of recent graduates from the city of Philadelphia. Although not all the participants were originally from the area, all have decided to make Philly their permanent home. Most importantly, the main goal of Haverford House is to“help our campus community develop a stronger relationship with the city.” The program seeks local solutions to global problems. Adds Edwards,“It's not providing band-aids, but working for real social change.”