Make The Connection

April 24, 2019 | By Christina Semeraro '21

Ohio Wesleyan students visit Washington, D.C., to explore the ‘Crossroads of the Powerful and Powerless’ during spring break. (Photo by Lisa Ho)

‘Powerful and Powerless’

Ohio Wesleyan Students Explore Issues of Poverty in D.C.

Name: Jenelle Collier ’20

Hometown: Clinton, Maryland

Major: Neuroscience

OWU Connection experience: Spring Break Interfaith Service Week Team exploring “Crossroads of the Powerful and Powerless” in Washington, D.C.

Collier served as the logistics leader on an interfaith service team that traveled to Washington, D.C., to explore the intersection between poverty and people in positions of power. The team also included Alexis Thomas ’20 (reflection leader), Alana Guzman ’21, Ahmed Hamed ’20, Veronica Cody ’22, Olivia Moyler ’22, Miah Katalenas ’22, Lauren Barnes ’22, and Dmitri Ashakih ’22. The students were accompanied by staff members Lisa Ho and Michelle Kinney. While in the nation’s capital, the group met with lobbyists and politicians, and worked with organizations with the shared goal of reducing poverty.

Why this OWU Connection Experience?

“I chose this OWU experience because I was very pleased with the previous service trip I did last year to Houston, Texas, helping to rebuild homes that were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“I wanted to bring a group of students who were not from the D.C. metropolitan area and have them learn and engage in service and conversations about the themes of homelessness, gentrification, mass incarceration, and use of legislation to advocate and make a change.

“I was truly inspired and moved in Houston, and I wanted students to get that same experience in a place that is so famous to our country.”

Jenelle Collier ’20

Favorite Moments

“I had many favorite moments, but I really enjoyed the day where we went and served at a homeless/hospital shelter called Christ House. We conducted a metro reflection, and we walked around Howard University, ate at the famous Ben's Chili Bowl, and took pictures in front of the beautiful murals.

“That day, I felt my team really come out of the tourist state and become a part of the D.C. culture, and that was one of the important aspects I wanted our team to experience.”

Lessons Learned

“On this trip, I learned that those in power want to hear from us more than we think. All we have to do is speak and speak from real-life experiences.

“We learned about the cycles of poverty and how laws being changed can change the direction of a person's life. I also learned about leadership and how one must have the heart to follow before they lead. 

“These experiences matter because they really strive to connect all citizens around our country and around the world. One person's struggles indirectly impact me.

“We are all striving toward the same things, and we must all learn that everything going on in this world is our business. It is important to stand for something.”

Alumni Interactions

“We had an alumni dinner with eight OWU graduates: Ryan Bishop ’17, Cali Cornaccia Moore ’13, Tom Dolan ’18, Claire Everhart ’10, Laurel Fuller ’14, Kamila Golden ’13, Joanne Neugebauer ’11, and Kelsey Ullom ’14.”

Why did you choose Ohio Wesleyan?

“I chose Ohio Wesleyan University because it has a phenomenal neuroscience program. This university has tons of traveling and connection opportunities. I am able to lead and learn about myself and many other cultures and communities. I am able to grow as a person here at this liberal arts college.”

What are your plans after graduation?

“I plan to continue on to graduate school to pursue a master’s and eventually Ph.D. in neuroscience research focusing on the regional developments of neurodegenerative diseases around the world, genetic versus environmental factors.”