In September, the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships (JCCP) hired Rhea Drozdenko, to serve as its first Coordinator of Community Participation. The newly created position, will oversee the center’s effort to deepen and broaden K-12 student access to the wide range of resources available at Wesleyan University. This focus reflects a key priority of the university’s civic action plan, as well as the JCCP’s commitment to collaborate with stakeholders in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for the greater Middletown community.
This Q&A provides an opportunity us to learn more about Rhea – class of 2018 and native of Torrington, Connecticut…
Tell us about your path to Wesleyan and your interests in civic engagement…
I grew up about an hour away from Wesleyan, and attended a small community college. From there, I transferred to Wesleyan as a sophomore and instantly fell in love. I was drawn to Wesleyan because I knew it would be a challenge (intellectually and socially), but I was eager to grow. I quickly got involved with the Jewett Center and Patricelli Center, and surrounded myself with like-minded people who wanted to make a difference in the community. The experience solidified my interest in civic engagement as well as my passion for increasing accessibility to education.
What excites you about the Coordinator of Community Participation position?
As I’ve lived here for three years, Middletown has become my second home. This is an amazing town, and I have loved getting involved socially and politically. The Coordinator’s charge is to help leverage Wesleyan’s resources for the community, especially broadening K-12 access to STEM, the arts, and college-going culture. I’m really excited to take on this charge and help further connect the Wesleyan and Middletown communities.
What are you reading these days?
This year I’ve been revisiting my early love of science-fiction, as I’m interested in how we can imagine new worlds and new systems of being. So I’ve been reading Octavia Butler, adrienne maree brown, and Nalo Hopkinson. I’m currently reading Ursula K Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness, and am very open to recommendations!
How do you spend your time when you are not “working”? Do you have any hobbies?
I really like to travel and explore new places. I recently came back from a cross-country road trip where I made friends, ate a lot of great food, and had many misadventures along the way. But I also enjoy small CT adventures on my days off. I also love being outside, even if it’s just a walk around the block. But if I had to pick my favorite place to go nearby, I would say Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. It has everything I need: a nice beach, hiking trails, and boardwalks.
Please join us in welcoming Rhea to the JCCP team! Should you have questions or would like more information about how to get involved at the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, please reach out to Rhea directly.