Christian Mesa is a Barry Service Corps Fellow, participating in a civic learning and leadership initiative designed to foster civic-mindedness and to prepare students for social change roles. His current emphasis is on urban health and, in particular, on supporting the work of three community partners - EcoTech Visions, Urban GreenWorks, and La Paloma Neighborhood Association. For example, Christian's work with EcoTech Visions has focused on increasing awareness of the business incubator's support for the development of "green" manufacturing start-ups (which use recycled materials in production processes) in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods such as Liberty City in Miami. Christian leads semi-monthly service trips to Urban GreenWorks, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore the environmental and economic health of underserved communities. He provides orientations for Barry students who help to maintain two community gardens, and he conducts reflection activities that encourage volunteers to make long-term commitments to supporting sustainable agriculture. Christian has facilitated a beautification project in La Paloma, with volunteers from Barry's main campus contributing not only to the physical improvement of the neighborhood but also to social improvement through the strengthening of relationships among residents. Additionally, Christian is passionate about minority issues and is helping to empower marginalized groups.
I was not always conscious about the disparities present within society. It was not until I was introduced to service-learning that I became aware of the racial and income inequalities that plague our society. During my first semester at Barry University, I participated in weekly trips to a local community, La Paloma, an unincorporated county neighborhood where people receive minimal representation for their taxes. This opened my eyes to social injustice, the most significant elements being wealth disparity and unearned privilege. My ultimate goal is to work towards the elimination of unprivileged groups within our society. As I prepare to enter the medical profession, I hope to be an advocate for equality within the field, particularly by raising awareness about racial and economic disparities in our society. In the meantime, I'm doing what I can to promote and support sustainability projects on campus and in the community.