The Urban Studies Program for graduate students added a new residential intern program this past month, the product of an 18-year-old relationship with Camden-based UrbanPromise. The program, supported heavily by Eastern President Dr. Robert Duffett, fulfills the vision of former Eastern student and professor, Dr. Tony Campolo. It was his desire, as was stated by Dr. Kimberlee Johnson, chair of the Urban Studies Department, “to see students at Eastern transform and be transformed as they lived, served and applied their education in community with the youth in Camden, New Jersey.”
Though many alumni have worked as interns at UrbanPromise in the past, this will be the first full-time Residential Urban Intern Program. Students will have an opportunity to practice youth ministry with Camden-area children for 20 hours a week while also taking masters-level courses at Eastern. UrbanPromise is an organization that has been around since 1988. They have worked primarily with the children and young adults of Camden, helping them to acquire important educational, spiritual and life management skills.
The relationship between Eastern and UrbanPromise goes back at least 18 years. The executive director of UrbanPromise, Jodina Hicks, is a former Eastern alumnus. She worked extensively with Johnson and members of Eastern’s faculty to bring together the details of the program as well as the logistics. As the word continues to get out to the current members of the Urban Studies Program, the college can await the reactions of the first round of participants in the Spring semester of 2015. Until then, however, Johnson says the program has come highly recommended by alumni who have worked with UrbanPromise in the past, and has even been called “one of the best programs in the city of Camden.” The program, she says, can be a great one for students in a number of fields, including youth workers, educators, ministers, program directors, advocates and social workers. The Urban Studies Program believes that with the creation of this program, it has entered into a strong, long-lasting relationship for the benefit of all involved. In the words of Johnson, “Eastern and UP are family.”