“This summer, I got to create instead of just critiquing”: Three Summer Fellows Share the Impact of their Summers

The 2021 Dwight Hall Summer Fellows program sponsored thirteen Dwight Hall students to immerse themselves in organizations devoted to using a social justice lens to address community needs. From this summer, the Fellows gained hands-on experience applying their academic interests to real life social change initiatives.

“​​This summer, I got to create instead of just critiquing, with people more involved with trying to change issues instead of talking about them academically, and that felt good.”

Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance (YANA)–Dwight Hall Summer Fellow Nathan Kim, Ethnicity, Race, and Migration (ER&M) ’22, worked with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), a counter-cartography group based in San Francisco that uses maps to fight predatory housing and capitalist speculation across the country. Nathan worked for the EvictorBook project of AEMP, which makes obfuscated property relations between landlords and evictors visible for tenants and housing organizers.

Prior to his fellowship, Nathan described his motivation to work with AEMP, “It is through AEMP that I can best fight for the causes I believe in with the experiences and skills I have. Land and property ownership has revealed itself to enforce oppressive relationships … I am motivated to work with AEMP so that I can work against these exploitative practices and encourage others to do so as well.”

In his final report, Nathan reflected, “ In terms of personal and professional goals, I think this was a very rewarding project to work on. I’m an Ethnicity, Race, and Migration major, and most of my classes during the semester are built on critique that we make from the ivory tower. That’s quite depressing sometimes. This summer, I got to create instead of just critiquing, with people more involved with trying to change issues instead of talking about them academically, and that felt good. More professionally, I  learned a lot of web development skills that I hope will be useful for me in the future as well.”

“I learned that there is space for me in the art world.”

Summer Fellow Tina Oyanguren, History of Art (HSAR) ’23, interned with Artspace New Haven preparing for the Student Apprenticeship Program (SAP) and acting as Lead Teaching Assistant. Tina’s summer fellowship was supported by the Yale Club of New Haven. SAP is a three-week program during which a lead artist comes to Artspace and works with high school students from New Haven schools to create a final exhibition. This year, the students collaborated with Tahir Hemphill and David Goldberg from Rap Research Lab; together, they created 360 videos using virtual reality technology and data visualizations inspired by the W.E.B. Dubois ones they saw on view at Artspace.

Prior to her work with ArtSpace, Tina’s motivations centered around the opportunity to explore her interests in art, education, and community outreach. This interest influenced Tina’s desire to become a history of art major, which she loves, she says, because “it allows me to apply my knowledge and skills to another passion of mine, which is education. The intersection between art and education is something I’m excited about and something I believe has incredible power to enact change.”

In her final reflection, Tina shared, “I learned that there is space for me in the art world. There’s an intersection between art, education, and community engagement that I thought was not accessible to me, but Artspace is the best example of that. As a Yale student, I feel like a guest in New Haven and I learned that historically, Artspace has not been a place where a lot of New Haven residents have felt welcomed in. Now this is something that we’re trying to change as an organization, and SAP plays a big role in that. This year, we accepted all students who applied using a lottery system so that all New Haven high schools were represented instead of just a few… I hope I can continue meeting people like the ones I met during my fellowship, because they were great examples of leadership and service done the right way.”

“I gained invaluable awareness about non-attorney pathways … that I feel strongly will influence my trajectory post-grad.”

YANA–Dwight Hall Summer Fellow José Garcia, ER&M and Education Studies (EDST) ’22, interned this summer at the New Haven Office of Federal Public Defenders. Under the Federal Defenders’ Mitigation Specialist, José was primarily responsible for drafting social histories of clients—interview reports that contextualize the root causes of a client’s allegation. Reviewed by judges in the federal courts and in the attorney’s building of the case, the social history memos are intended to either wholly interrupt or dramatically reduce a client’s incarceration sentence.

On his fellowship with Federal Public Defenders, José stated, “I find it incumbent upon every Yale student to use the institution’s mass array of resources to empower those outside the school’s gates and towers…At the Federal Defenders, I engaged in activities that foster dialogue between myself and low-income residents of Greater New Haven in need of free legal representation. This dialogue has proved to work with, not simply for, the community— empowering people with the resources essential for transformation through tailored mitigation services.”

In his final reflection, José said, “Completing this internship has exposed me to many, many avenues of public interest law practice and how that takes shape on the federal level. I also gained invaluable awareness about non-attorney pathways to doing this work that I feel strongly will influence my trajectory post-grad.” Specifically, José continued working with the Public Defenders Office as an Urban Fellow with Dwight Hall this school year.

Hats Off to Being Hands-On

José, Tina, and Nathan all demonstrated how they used their summers to gain hands-on experience directly related to their major and career interests. Dwight Hall applauds them and all thirteen Summer Fellows’ dedication to social change initiatives. By bridging their academic and public service interests, students like José, Tina, and Nathan make change happen here and will continue to do so in the careers they ultimately choose. 

About the Author

Lydia Burleson

Lydia Burleson served as the Communications and Alumni Engagement Associate for Dwight Hall at Yale, Center for Public Service and Social Justice from June 2021-June 2022. A first-generation low-income student from rural Texas, Lydia graduated from Yale cum laude in 2021 with a degree in English and a nonfiction creative writing concentration. During her college years, Lydia increased awareness of marginalized voices with the public writing she did for The Yale Daily News and the Yale Admissions office. Her Dwight Hall experiences included free college advising with student-led member groups REACH and Matriculate. Dwight Hall empowered Lydia to uplift other disadvantaged students and to increase access to education for people who might not have otherwise received these resources. She is currently completing an English PhD at Stanford University with a Knight-Hennessy Fellowship.