Summer Bridge Spotlight: Suzanne Valentine

Meet Suzanne Valentine, one of four participants selected for the 2022 Summer Bridge program.

Valentine headshot
Suzanne Valentine

Suzanne is a PhD student in English. This summer, she worked with community partner Champaign County Mental Health Board. CCMHB coordinates and evaluates the comprehensive local system of mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services for Champaign County.

How have you applied your humanistic training to advance the mission of the community organization?

The skill I have found most useful in nearly all of the situations I’ve been in has been the ability to quickly absorb and research context and then distill it into categories. This is something I use all of the time in academic work where I need to understand the cultural and historical context for a text before I can make an argument about it.

This skill has been invaluable as I try to work on composing surveys or writing content for an organization and community that has a rich and complex history I need to understand in order to ask the right questions or provide the right information.

How has this experience contributed to your career development? What skills have you gained or developed?

This experience has given me more confidence in believing that I can do a task that might be part of a job description, even if it doesn’t match exactly with something I’ve done in the past. I have also been able to get some experience that fits with potential careers, such as survey/questionnaire development, which I would never have the chance to do in my academic work.

What have you learned from working with this community organization?

Working with this organization given me a deeper view of the community I live in, which is something I didn’t realize was missing from working in the bubble of the university. There are so many people who are currently working in the community to support each other and impact lives.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your Summer Bridge program experience?

The Summer Bridge program has been a great experience and I have really appreciated the support from the HWW organizers. They have been so helpful in asking us to reflect on what we are learning and skills we are gaining that I feel like I will be able to communicate what I got from this experience in job interviews in the future.

More about HWW's Summer Bridge Program