Summer Humanities Program Builds Bridge Between Communities

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – June 3, 2022

HWW Reciprocity and Redistribution graphic

The Humanities Without Walls Consortium (HWW) has announced four participants selected for the 2022 Summer Bridge program. Now in its second year, Summer Bridge invites humanities PhD students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to spend eight weeks working collaboratively with organizations in the Champaign-Urbana area, using their humanities knowledge while building new skills to make an impact in the community.

Supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Summer Bridge experience is grounded in the methods of reciprocity and redistribution at the heart of the HWW project. As such, it is a collaborative partnership between HWW, We CU and Dr. Derek Attig, Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development in UIUC’s Graduate College. With guidance from this team, each PhD student is connected to an organization which has identified an area of need, and, with the Bridge student, has co-designed a project to address that need.

“The Summer Bridge experience centers community organizing, which undergirds my work as an educator,” said Rayven Morrow, one of the selected Summer Bridge participants and PhD student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership. “With every organization I collaborate with, I learn valuable skills, such as how to create culturally competent goals and how to engage critically with outside forces seeking to disrupt the community.”

Summer Bridge also provides a funded and facilitated opportunity to apply humanistic skills and training in new ways. Participant Suzanne Valentine, PhD student in the Department of English, applied because of her interest in “understanding what people want and need when it comes to public outreach projects.”

For Breanna Escamilla, PhD student in the Department of Anthropology, the Summer Bridge experience offers the chance to build professional development skills. “Having transitioned from my undergraduate experience directly into a doctoral program,” Escamilla said, “I hope to be emerged in a new workplace model where I can broaden my understandings of professional norms and procedures.” Students will also have access to mentoring to learn how to communicate their experience in resumes and the job search process.

“The Summer Bridge experience will help me convert my research and teaching into real and substantive change that addresses and solves vital needs in a community,” said Victoria Fields, PhD student in the Department of Communication. “I strongly believe this program will help me bridge the gaps between research, teaching, policy and practice through community service.”


Summer Bridge 2022 Participants

  • Breanna Escamilla (Anthropology), community partner: Driven to Reach Excellence & Academic Achievement for Males (DREAAM). DREAAM builds trauma-informed programming for boys and young men in the C-U community aimed at sustaining a culture of achievement, engagement and behavioral health.
  • Victoria Fields (Communication), community partner: Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD). Within CUPHD, the Equity Council addresses various forms of systemic oppression and racism in carrying out public health initiatives in the Champaign-Urbana community.
  • Rayven Morrow (Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership, with a concentration in Gender and Women's Studies), community partner: CU Freedom School at Garden Hills Academy. CU Freedom School is a summertime and after-school literacy and cultural enrichment program for K–5 students.
  • Suzanne Valentine (English), 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.



Summer Bridge Program webpage

Contact: Erin Ciciora, Senior Communications Manager