Student Leader Impact Story: Gracie Poston

By Gracie Poston
August 8, 2023

About the Author: Emelie– also known as Gracie– Poston is a 3rd-year biochemistry major and philosophy minor at Northeastern. She has a passion for medicine and health equity, inspiring her to pursue two co-ops as a public health research assistant and a medical assistant for local hospitals. On campus, Gracie is involved in the Alliance of Civically Engaged Students, GlobeMed, and NU Club Running and has been a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant since the spring of 2022, working primarily with upper-level policy courses. In the fall of 2022, Gracie stepped up as a Service-Learning Team Manager to help other S-LTAs navigate their experience supporting service-learning classes. She has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with several civic-engagement-based offices and organizations at Northeastern and hopes to continue supporting students in their civic engagement journey in Boston and beyond!

“What does justice look like?” Professor Landsmark asked our class on the first day. Bringing together graduate and undergraduate student voices, the Open Classroom course creates a unique space for thought-provoking discussion on topics like justice. Despite the magnitude of such a question, students fearlessly volunteered to answer, tackling the intersection of topics like environmental justice with social justice and what this means in terms of action. Over the course of the semester, the class returned to this question, and although their answers may have changed, their aptitude to make mistakes and be bold in this discussion remained.

Conversations like these are what have shaped my experience as a service-learning teaching assistant at Northeastern. Despite being matched with several graduate-level courses in The Policy School at Northeastern– a field of study different from my own in the College of Science– I have learned that justice is a topic many of us feel passionate about.

My dream is to pursue medicine– mainly because finding justice through a public health lens resonates with me most. However, having facilitated reflections on service and community engagement in these policy classes, I have grown to learn how differently justice can look through the lens of my peers. Even within a single class, students often don’t see eye to eye on what needs are most urgent and how to affect change in the world. These policy students often see parts of themselves in the community, which motivates them to address challenges presented by community partners in a unique way to their identities and passions.

This diversity of opinion is powerful. These ideas resonating in the same space allow us to see our community more holistically. Concurrently, the partnerships between Service-Learning classes and community-based organizations thrive on students’ sense of vulnerability. Exposure to the “policy-student mindset” has helped me think about the issues I’m passionate about– personal health, healthcare infrastructure, and medical ethics– for their complex and fluid nature, especially regarding the rich and diverse Boston community we are a part of. I’ve grown to learn that when we approach community engagement with a comprehensive and collaborative mindset, we broaden our horizons to face these big issues and tackle justice head-on.

Unveil the full story of our remarkable efforts and groundbreaking initiatives on our web page on the thrilling 2022-2023 year!

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