OCE Student Profile Series
by Laura Stephens
Recent graduate Emily Mahoney has a heart for everyone she meets. Kind and humble, she is quick to laugh and be silly. She looks for opportunities to welcome others and make them feel comfortable. But she also is an accomplished researcher, who has worked with Dr. Scott Ickes in his public health research for years. During college, she also gave her time to MANOS, or Medical Aid Nicaragua: Outreach Scholarship. Currently in Uganda, she shared some of her reflections with us on what community engagement has meant to her.
Office of Community Engagement: How are you involved in community engagement at William & Mary?
Emily Mahoney: I was involved in Medical Aid Nicaragua: Outreach Scholarship (MANOS) for 3 years.
OCE: How has this work contributed to community needs?
EM: MANOS is a student-led research team that partners with a small, rural community in Nicaragua in order to identify and address the community’s needs in a collaborative manner.
OCE: What does active citizenship mean for you?
EM: Active citizenship means cultivating an awareness of the problems going on in your community–both locally and globally–and then seeking to imagine and create something different alongside fellow community members.
OCE: How has your experience working in the community affected your educational career at William & Mary?
EM: MANOS entirely shifted the way that I approached academics. It made me hypersensitive to sweeping assumptions made in the classroom and an advocate for practice-informed research. Being an “active citizen” in the classroom really taught me to think critically.
OCE: How do you plan to use what you’ve learned as an engaged citizen beyond William & Mary?
EM: No matter what I do, I plan to use this active citizen perspective to think critically about my place in the world.
OCE: What is the most memorable or striking moment you experienced during your engagement work?
EM: While working with MANOS, we got to see the project grow by leaps and bounds. It was incredible to see how community members took more ownership over incoming resources and began to advocate for themselves and for their communities. It was really exciting to see measured, sustainable change taking place.