Olivia Papp ’23
During the Fall of 2022, Reese San Diego ’25 and Anna Grant-Bolton ’25 participated in a Community Learning Research Colloquium. For this project, the research fellows partnered with an organization in Hartford, Connecticut, called Her Time. Her Time is a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization that connects Connecticut women involved in the justice system with social services.
For this project, the research fellows conducted research on the challenges that formerly incarcerated women of color in Connecticut face when returning to their communities. Throughout this project, the research fellows created an anonymous survey that was sent to formerly incarcerated women of color involved with the Her Time organization. The goal of this survey was to identify exactly which social service resources were already available to them and what additional resources would be beneficial if made available.
To further immerse herself into the research project, Grant-Bolton decided to attend one of the “Hang Time” sessions, hosted by Her Time. “My favorite part of the project was being able to sit down and talk to the women who were there. By hearing their experiences directly, getting to know these women, and building meaningful relationships, I felt that this research could have real impacts,” she said.
Additionally, Grant-Bolton expressed the importance of hearing these women share their stories. “When any research is done, it is important to directly connect with the people that you are performing research on because getting to know these people as human beings is special. It is easy for Trinity students to sit in the ivory tower and see research participants as a way to collect information for research purposes. Having the opportunity to bare witness to these participants’ lived experiences is the way we can create change. Overall, going to these meetings made me realize that these are real people’s lives and any of the research we do will have an impact, meaning that this project needed to be thoughtful and intentional,” she said.
San Diego’s favorite part of the project was the connections that she made. Every time San Diego became involved with a project based on collaborating with community partners, it inspired her to participate in another one. “I loved becoming connected with people who work in Hartford. It’s always a special experience to connect with someone doing amazing work, such as our community partner. The gentle guidance and inspiration she gave us every step along the way were appreciated. She always was instilling confidence in us and making us feel capable,” said San Diego.
Grant-Bolton stressed the importance of Trinity students getting involved with the Hartford community. “We have all of these resources at Trinity, and with that, we have great academic learning and research opportunities. It is important to learn about social justice in the classroom so we know how to take thoughtful action, but it’s important to learn from people with these lived experiences,” she remarked.
For San Diego, being an interactive member of the Hartford community and a member of the Trinity community are not mutually exclusive. “It is always interesting for me to participate in projects such as these. Understanding the work that our community partners do and why they do the work they do is important. By doing research projects such as this one, you can become connected with the Hartford community, which is a special opportunity that all Trinity students should take advantage of,” she said.
Overall, this project was meaningful, impactful, and enjoyable for San Diego and Grant-Bolton. These fantastic research fellows recommend that the Trinity student body applies to be community research learning fellows. The professors are supportive and all students will learn a lot. Get involved!