Isabelle Jenkins

Associate Director of Community Based Learning, College of the Holy Cross

I would say the people are what makes Worcester so distinct. I think it’s a city filled with people who are really passionate about bridging difference. I spend a lot of time working with organizations that work with refugees and immigrants and that’s where I see Worcester shine the most. I think it is such a welcoming city in that sense and I think people are really great about opening their arms and minds to that. I feel like anybody who I know who’s lived in Worcester and has lived here for a long time, I just have never really seen in other places people have that much love for a place. Just really, there’s some sort of intimate connection people have with the physical you know place of Worcester that I think is really, really wonderful and inspiring and makes me want to engage with the city even more. And I’m just so lucky because I get to see so many different sides of the city with my job. You know I work with 35 community partners, I work a lot with Worcester public schools and a lot with like I was saying refugees and immigrants. I just see a lot of people who are really passionate about seeing this city—not only seeing this city becoming great, but believe that it’s already wonderful and great and, because it is. I mean it doesn’t necessarily look like, it’s not gentrified, it’s not it doesn’t look like downtown Boston, but I there’s so many great things about it already that it doesn’t need to be something different. I mean I do think all the influx of restaurants and the new construction’s great too, but I think, I just think it’s such a shining gem of a place and it’s wonderful to work with so many people who care very deeply about their neighbors. You know neighbors physically, but also just the people in their own community, so I think that’s what makes Worcester really special.

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Isabelle Amy Jenkins was born in 1988. She grew up in both Gill, Massachusetts, and New Milford, Connecticut. Her childhood was slightly different from others, since her neighborhood was the boarding school where her mother worked. In her predominately white, middle class town, the boarding school brought diversity to New Milford. She attended the College of Holy Cross for her undergraduate degree and Harvard’s Divinity School for her graduate degree to become a chaplain. It was not until an internship at United Way during her junior year that she realized she loved service work.  Isabelle currently works at the College of the Holy Cross as the Associate Director of Community Based Learning. This program engages students in hands-on work to deepen their understanding of what they are learning in the classroom. Her passions lie with making students encounter difference in the community of Worcester. Each day, she deals with various social justice issues and tries to fix as many as she can. She believes that women should never stop trying to advance and believes each should “Surround yourself with your people because being a woman is really hard and you’re going to need people to let you persist.”

Interview
Interview Date: 
February 17, 2017
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