Interview with Hannah Amundsen. April 17, 2015.
EFH: Hannah, thank you for being with me today. Congratulations on winning the Duel Richardson Four Year Service Award! Can you tell me about what you’ve been doing with NSP this whole time?
HA: I started off with NSP freshman year, fall quarter. It was the first thing I did here, really. I’ve been working at the same site ever since then. I work at Gary Comer Youth Center, which is a comprehensive service center for youth in South Shore. I work specifically in a program called Study Buddies, which is 3rd to 8th grade students. I’m helping them with whatever they might need, whether it’s math or a personal problem they’re having, hanging out after school, keeping them somewhat on task, getting things done. That’s been a consistent part of my college experience here.
EFH: What has it been like to be at Gary Comer Youth Center for four years? That’s pretty unique for an NSP student. What’s changed and what’s stayed the same?
HA: It’s really special for me and I hope for the kids as well. I had a small cohort that started with me as fifth graders that are now eighth graders, and are graduating from middle school, just as I was a freshman when I started with them, and I’m now graduating from college. I’ve been seeing them grow up through these past four years and really getting to know them much better. Now they’re getting into selective enrollment schools and coming and telling me about it. It’s incredible just to see their growth, along with my own at the same time.
EFH: Are there any particular stories that stick out in your mind when you reflect on your time there?
HA: Yeah, I mean, there are so many! I have one student, her name is Faith. She is one of those fifth graders that started off with me and she would come in very consistently. She’s a very hard worker and she just makes sure that she’s in every time I’m there. She’ll email with me, she sends me pictures from her homecoming dance. We’re always in touch, so she’s just been a really special part of the whole experience. All of my students have been, but she’s one case.
EFH: I know that you’re also a public policy major specializing in education. Are you doing anything else in education on campus?
HA: Most things I do on campus involve education in some way. So whether that’s extracurriculars or internships, pretty much everything in my college experience has been somewhat tied to education. My sophomore year, a friend and I started a group called Block 58, which does education research and policy work on campus and in the community. Then I’ve also had internships with the Urban Education Lab and the Noble Network of Charter Schools. So everything is tied together.
EFH: That’s amazing. How has the other education work you’ve been doing been influenced by and how has it influenced your tutoring at Gary Comer?
HA: I think I’ve seen it kind of from all three sides at this point. Learning, research and policy, which is really cool. In my current position at the Urban Ed Labs, I’m seeing all these different interventions and justice work for students and community. I’ve done it from the policy perspective at the Noble Network, so seeing the political wrangling that goes on behind the scenes in the education scene in Chicago. Having that hands-on experience at Gary Comer Youth Center, just working with students, has been so crucial to the whole process.
EFH: And graduation’s coming up! What’s next?
HA: I will be moving to Washington, D.C. in June. I’m working at Hanover Research, doing education research, which is not a surprise to anyone! I’m not sure if it’ll be K-12 or higher ed research yet, but I’ll know soon.
EFH: Good luck and thank you so much!
Hannah Amundsen is a fourth year in the College, majoring in public policy. She has been tutoring at Gary Comer Youth Center since October 2011.
Emily Fortune Hancock is the operations manager at the University of Chicago.