The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

Amani Echols, former member of Ginsberg's Student Advisory Board

On a whim, I applied to the Ginsberg Student Advisory Board at the end of my freshman year. The director of my living-learning community, Michigan Community Scholars Program, recommended the opportunity to me and I knew that the Center and I had similar values regarding community engagement and social justice.

Three years later, having graduated, I am so appreciative of my time spent at Ginsberg. In addition to being on the Student Advisory Board, I have participated in a Ginsberg coordinated alternative spring break trip and served on grant review committees for two Ginsberg opportunities Alternative Breaks Grants and Community Engagement Grants.

Ginsberg has been instrumental in shaping my ability to articulate the importance of working with communities and collective action in order to advance social change. Being a Community and Global Public Health major and Gender and Health minor, I am continuously applying the core principles of the Ginsberg Center to my academic work. It is necessary to start with community-identified needs prior to implementing a public health intervention or enacting new health policy legislation, for example. Moreover, in the pursuit of health equity, I often draw on the foundations of Ginsberg to interrogate power imbalances in relationships and strive to solidify long-term partnerships centered on equity.

In addition, the Ginsberg Center provides me a channel to extend my learning outside the classroom in an equitable manner through my extracurriculars and community-engagement work. Not only does the Ginsberg Center prioritize the goals of communities, but it also invests in student leadership. (This is an aspect of Ginsberg that I was not informed of before getting involved with Ginsberg). Serving on the Student Advisory Board has allowed me to be on the receiving end of this leadership development, supporting my various personal and student organization initiatives.

During my undergraduate career, I have spearheaded many social-justice oriented projects in which Ginsberg has been influential. Most notably, I co-created and co-chaired the Health Equity High School Summit—the first event of its kind at any School of Public Health in the nation. Funded by a Ginsberg Community Engagement Grant and the U-M Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Innovation Grant, the summit seeks to bridge the gap between the lack of public health education in high schools, especially those in underserved school districts. Impacting nearly 200 students, the summit creates a space where students learn basic public health concepts to advance scholarship and discussion on the emerging priority of addressing health equity in health systems, communities, and policy. The ultimate aim of the event is to encourage students to pursue a career in public health with the goals of empowering the students to become change agents in their communities and diversifying the field in the long-term. In the time of March For Our Lives, #MeToo, and Black Lives Matter, it is imperative to recognize that the future of society is dependent upon the connection our youth have to impactful issues.

To me, GINSBERG IS the foundation of my approach to public health. Since graduation, I have continued to apply the principles of the Ginsberg Center to my academic studies and professional career as I pursue a master’s in public health in health management and policy.