Northeastern graduate receives Community Service Award for helping Boston high school students refine their handwriting – News @ Northeastern


Sasha Shenk knew she wanted to contribute to the community surrounding the Northeastern campus in Boston even before she arrived from Seattle to begin her major in health sciences, but she never expected volunteer work to be. so beneficial to her.

“I gained so much experience,” says Shenk, who received the Northeastern 2021 Community Service Leadership Award for his work at 826 Boston, a non-profit organization that helps students explore and develop their writing skills. 826 Boston, which is part of a national organization in eight other cities, has 2,500 volunteers engaged with students.

Shenk says helping Boston public high school students with their research papers expanded his own education, especially when COVID-19 precautions resulted in the space being closed for volunteers at 826 Boston.

“During COVID everyone was suddenly home, and I really got that new perspective. We were no longer in this standardized classroom environment where everyone can come in and focus on learning, ”says Shenk. “I often had students I worked with and they’d say, ‘Hey, I’m taking care of my brother right now’ or ‘My mom needs me to help with something.’ I was working with a lot of underserved communities and a lot of these students didn’t have the same flexibility as many students in the Northeast.

Heather Nelson, writing room coordinator at 826 Boston, nominated Shenk for the award after working with her as a supervisor and mentor since 2019.

“Even from the very beginning, when I met her, she had a really nice combination of skills. I could tell that she was a very detail-oriented person who paid special attention to writing and academic matters, but she was also very friendly and open with the students, ”says Nelson. “She had good interpersonal skills and she was able to sit down and have a conversation that made the students feel comfortable.”

Helping students develop their writing skills served as a creative counterbalance to her major in health sciences, Shenk says. She encourages other students who wish to volunteer locally to take a course in Northeastern’s Service learning program.

“It allowed me to really get involved in community engagement,” says Shenk, adding that the course also led to his Health Science Capstone project. Shenk used his experience working with students to create an hour-long training session for prospective Northeastern Service Learning students, detailing ways to combat racism and address other issues. social justice while volunteering.

“I am truly passionate about social equity, accessibility, social justice and anti-racism,” says Shenk, adding that teaching students while they were at home opened her eyes to the many responsibilities that compete with their education.

“It’s one thing to theoretically learn these things in a classroom setting, and another thing to really see a lot of these systemic inequalities up close. It gives you the new ability to put on those glasses and look around the world and see where all of these issues are happening, and see how you can fight them on a day-to-day basis.

Shenk, who says she will continue to volunteer at 826 Boston, says Boston campus students can learn so much just by connecting to surrounding neighborhoods.

“At first I felt like when I was a resident of Northeastern and was in Boston for Northeastern, I wasn’t necessarily a member of the Mission Hill community where I lived, or a member of. the community of Roxbury. I think the biggest thing that working with these students really taught me was just a new appreciation and admiration for the communities I live in that support me, ”said Shenk.

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