Melissa Lovitz, University of Connecticut
Melissa Lovitz, a senior honors student at the University of Connecticut, has deep roots in public service, having spent a gap year before college as a City Year Corps Member in Washington D.C. There she witnessed the problems of access to quality education and income disparity and has since been devoted to unraveling the complexity of education policy, economics and family engagement. Melissa has since spent a semester in Cape Town, South Africa, where she interned at City Mission Educational Services and volunteered at the Cape Town Holocaust Center. She has also spent time in Uganda as an American Jewish World Service Volunteer, helping to build a public radio station at a school for former child soldiers. She has served as a research assistant in UConn’s Neag School of Education and has also been a teaching assistant for BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) in Boston. Her honors thesis, “Identifying Strategies for Family Engagement in Low Income Schools,” emerged from her work as a research intern with Achieve Hartford!, an organization committed to closing the achievement gap in Hartford, CT. Melissa is well on her way to becoming a leader in education reform.
-President Susan Herbst, University of Connecticut
Inspired to make positive change in schools, I took a gap year and served with City Year in Washington, DC. My service year quickly confirmed for me that I want to be a contributor in addressing the trajectory of failing schools and struggling students. This experience also motivated me to challenge myself within and outside of my university community. Therefore, I joined the national co-educational service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, pursued an internship at an alternative school in Cape Town, South Africa, and mentored summer school students in Boston, MA. In each, I established myself as a leader and planned programming to enhance the learning community by infusing the program with community service and character development activities. I have applied the same drive and work ethic in the classroom at the University of Connecticut as an honors student in the Human Development and Family Studies program. This success is demonstrated by my 3.94/4.00 GPA. My personal journey with service and leadership will continue as I pursue graduate studies in the field of Urban Education Policy. I will implement realistic, long-lasting solutions to cyclical problems in diverse school communities by relating previous experience, providing direct service and proposing strategic policy interventions.