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New Hill House program participants ready to connect in neighborhood

After working on a faculty-assisted research project during her time as an undergraduate student at Murray State University, Jacqulynn Skaggs found she wanted to gain more research experience — this time, on a broader scale.

Four new students will be participating in WKU's Hill House graduate assistantship program this year. From left are John Roberts; Nadia De Leon, community engagement coordinator for the WKU ALIVE Center; Elcin Celik; Amelia Harshfield; Terry Shoemaker, program coordinator for WKU's Institute for Citizenship & Social Responsibility; and Jacqulynn Skaggs.

“I was interested in working at the community level versus the one-on-one,” said Skaggs, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in social work at WKU and is one of four students living and working in the Hill House this year.

Students in WKU’s Hill House graduate assistantship program, which is located at East 11th Street and offered through the WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships, work on research and community development projects that align with their academic areas of study, addressing local challenges and issues.

The program has kicked off for the 2011-2012 year with four new students: Skaggs; Amelia Harshfield, who studied business at Baker University in northeast Kansas and is pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Economics from WKU; John Roberts, who studied psychology at Georgetown College and is pursuing a master’s degree in Counseling and Student Affairs from WKU; and Elçin Celik, a graduate student in WKU’s sociology department who studied sociology at Hacettepe University in Turkey.

“For me, it was just a great opportunity to do some research, and to do some good for the community — and also to explore the relationship universities and communities have,” Roberts said of the Hill House program.

Roberts will be able to use his background in psychology to address individual needs throughout the Bowling Green community.

“Psychology is just such a broad field,” he said. “It can apply to a lot of different aspects of life, and in communities, you have a wide variety of people — ethnically, economically, educationally.”

Students report their progress through a blog, which can be found at http://wkuhillhouse.posterous.com/. Their responsibilities include organizing community events, establishing a forum for discussion, maintaining communication with neighbors, developing and implementing community projects, and sharing their experiences with the larger campus and Bowling Green community.

Contact: Aurelia Spaulding, (270) 782-0082.

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