My name is Molly Cohen, and I’m excited to be joining Generation Citizen as the Rhode Island Program Associate.
I first developed an interest in community empowerment as a student at Vassar College. I was lucky enough to be able to study the impact of structural inequality academically as well as experientially, primarily through fieldwork opportunities. I became deeply involved with a local domestic violence agency and volunteered throughout college as a counselor and advocate—accompanying women to court appointments and police stations, helping them navigate the complex application forms for food stamps, assessing their safety needs and options, and making victim notification calls to clients whose abusers were about to be released from jail. I was struck by the way the systemic inequalities I studied in class manifested in my clients’ day-to-day lives, the blending of dispassionate sociological theories and peoples’ deeply personal individual experiences.
While my education at Vassar convinced me that I was destined for non-profit work, I was interested in exploring a more preventative form of community support. After graduating, I moved to Rhode Island to serve with City Year in one of Providence’s public schools. I tutored and mentored students in a sixth grade math class for a year, then returned to the school the next year to lead a new team of AmeriCorps members. I missed working directly with students (there’s never a dull moment with sixth graders), but I loved getting to support and coach my team as they learned to navigate the complex dynamics of an urban public middle school.
My sixth graders first introduced me to Generation Citizen— they gave me periodic updates on their project on mental healthcare and kept countdowns to the end-of-semester trip to the State House. But what really captured my interest was GC’s role in helping students think critically about the challenges in their communities and advocate for the solutions they believe in. I’m excited to be joining a team that places such a high value on youth voice as a vehicle for social change.
Generation Citizen is a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 tax exempt organization which does not endorse candidates; our goal is to engage our staff, participants, and stakeholders in political and civic action on issues that matter to them personally and in their communities. The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the writer alone and do not reflect the opinions of Generation Citizen.