Drew Action Scholars Address Big Problems

First-year students present plans, actions, and approaches to crucial issues at the annual Town Hall event

April 2022 – Drew University Action Scholars explore real-world problems and solutions in the classroom and through their volunteer work. First-year Action Scholars had the opportunity to present and facilitate dialogue on important challenges during their annual Town Hall event.

Preparation for the Town Hall is a year-long process. Students research best practices; consult with relevant public and community groups, clients, customers, or other stakeholders; develop an action plan; and take action based on that plan.

Students present within the three pillars of the Drew Action Scholar commitment: community, innovation, and global impact.

Eleven groups presented at the recent Town Hall. Here’s a sampling of how Drew’s Action Scholars put their knowledge to work.

Behind the Athlete: Let’s Talk about Mental Health
Brenna Behensky
Cameryn Brown
Amira Mutakabbir
Assata Mutakabbir
Nzingha Mutakabbir

Research shows that 33 percent of all college students experience significant symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions—but only 10 percent of student-athletes will seek help for these conditions.

The Action Scholar team, all members of Drew’s women’s fencing team, created Behind the Athlete, a platform committed to the action and advocacy for the improvement of mental health awareness, services, and resources at Drew.

The group conducted a survey amongst Drew student-athletes, which garnered extremely high response rates. Their research showed that 91.7 percent of students experienced stress caused by athletic/academic balance or coach pressure and 77.5 percent of survey respondents felt that mental health impacts athletic performance.

The students are committed to open dialogue, removing the stigma, and educating students on the impacts and available resources surrounding mental health. 

The group will host “Behind the Athlete,” an on-campus student-led event where students can safely discuss athletics programs and provide support Drew student-athletes.

Their work will continue next fall through the Innovation Action Lab course. Follow them at @DrewUBehindtheAthlete on Instagram to learn more.

Helping Future Generations: Addressing Education Inequity in STEM
Elizabeth Blank
Elliot Franklyn
Hailey Hearney
Amelia Tirey
Bridget Wilson

Students identified inequities in STEM exposure for younger children, especially in low-income areas.

The group created a pamphlet, in English and Spanish, to introduce parents and educators on the importance of exposing children to STEM by providing information on local museums and organizations, as well as experiments and at-home activities and ideas.

Many student attendees shared their experiences with a lack of STEM exposure during their childhood and finding unexpected major choices and career paths after taking a STEM-related class at Drew.

Breaking Out Women’s Edition: Women and Economic Opportunity
Elainna Hodge
Marianela Pina De La Hoz
Nancy Oliveira

Fifty-six percent of people living in poverty in the U.S. are women. Statistically, women are less financially stable than men in all racial and ethnic groups.

The group created a newsletter, Breaking Out Women’s Edition, as a resource to empower women and provide resources and opportunities on child care and tutoring, and local resources that can contribute to women’s confidence and success.

Further, Drew students will volunteer their time to provide tutoring and after-school care to working women, and will organize family fun and game nights.

Follow their progress on Instagram at @BreakingOutWomensEdition.

A Helping Paw: Changing the Lives of Shelter Animals
Victoria Kuenzel
Karen Quituisaca
Genevieve Sarinelli
Skyler Tanski

Through a collaboration with St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, students are working to increase adoptability in local shelter animals by socializing animals, creating specialized toys, and raising awareness of the importance of spaying and neutering pets.


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