For some Milledgeville community members, Ashlyn Douglas is a familiar face. The senior sociology major has spent her time at Georgia College reaching out to the community including working on a garden plot at the Lucille Harris Community Garden, visiting seniors at the Baldwin Senior Center and helping in the planning and painting of the mural at the Collins P. Lee Center. But the community-involved Sandersville native wasn’t always this outgoing.
“To be honest I was somewhat shy,” said Douglas. “The art and social justice class that I took in spring 2014 opened my eyes to the community that we are a part of. The more I worked with them and heard their stories— the more I appreciated the town, its people and Georgia College.”
Douglas took part of two courses that were community-based learning opportunities, which aim to get students out into the Milledgeville community. One class, sociology of food, involved students working on their own gardening plots, having community meetings and a being a part of a community-shared meal. The other, art and social justice course, included the opportunity to be part of the planning and implementation of a community mural at the Harrisburg Collins P. Lee Center.
“The work we did at the Harrisburg community mural really drove me out of my comfort zone and gave me the ability to experience and learn about the community,” said Douglas. “I went to Dr. Godwin afterward and asked how I could get more involved.”
That involvement led to research, with the help of associate professor of sociology Dr. Sandra Godwin, on how to better build community-based courses. For her research Douglas was recently awarded the Newman Civic Fellow Award from Campus Compact.
“Ashlyn has the motivation and leadership required to address these social problems in a dedicated and long-term manner because I have seen, heard and read what she can do,” said Godwin. “Her work is consistently strong and insightful. Almost immediately after we had settled on a research topic she generated a thorough and detailed list of student interview questions for our study.”
For the somewhat shy senior, the work with the Harrisburg community gave her a chance to learn outside of the confines of classroom walls. Douglas also says that her work in the community goes toward what she sees herself doing after graduation—and ultimately for her career. Douglas plans on pursuing a job in her field or further her research in graduate school.
“Being involved with this community has allowed me to see the world a different way,” said Douglas. “Everyone has a story to tell and working in the community is an opportunity for us to respect and understand each other just a little bit more.”