College of Education professors Jennifer Lesh and Kelly Burlison recently partnered with psychology professor Debra Ainbinder to co-create an action research project on the effects of homelessness and food insecurity.

This unique project, which incorporated the Social Impact Lab,allowed individuals the opportunity to usetheir strengths while working with others in various elds to make a difference in both the local and global communities. As a result of the semester-long effort, the students are currently making recommendations based on their perspectives as future social workers, mental health counselors, teachers, policy-makers and business people.

“My group and I are focused on helping locally,” said Emily Mendez, junior. “We are currently reaching out to schools in Palm Beach County to help raise awareness.”

After conducting research, the students came up with numerous individual viewpoints to discuss the psychological impact of homelessness,

poverty and food insecurity. In particular, they became more aware of how these concepts affect one’s self-ef cacy, as presented in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

“My goal for this project was to raise consciousness among my students,” said Ainbinder. “I believe that this project has de nitely raised their awareness and made them much more energetic about making a change.”

UltImately, these professors hope to lead their students to produce work that becomes sustainable.

“As educators, it is our job to do this,” said Burlison. “The world is changing and it is time to make a difference.”

Once the semester ends, Lesh, Burlison and Ainbinder plan to continue this teaching style, providing students hands-on, applicable experience in bettering their surrounding areas. If this semester’s group is any indication, their efforts to raise awareness on pressing community issues is impacting the students’ lives as well.

Nicole Cleri

Nicole Cleri, a 19-year-old from Port St. Lucie, is a sophomore/junior in the 3.0 program. She aspires to become a journalist beyond college. When not at school, Cleri loves to be with her friends and family, or working at one of her three jobs.

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