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Karen Armendaríz '18 working with the Food Recovery Network.


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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Karen Armendaríz

Lincoln, Nebraska

Majors in Political Science and Sustainable Development

Karen's interest in public transportation led to her Mellon Fellowship, through which she researched public transportation relating to the Latinx community in Chicago.

Karen Armendaríz '18 working with the Food Recovery Network.

What's the most important thing you've learned at Knox outside the classroom?

I've learned that you can't learn everything at school. You really have to experience some things to truly understand them, which is why I love experiential projects. Also, another big thing I've learned is to listen to people. Sometimes there are things that work for some people but not for others. We have to learn to listen to those who are not benefitting from things we're doing. You can't just ignore when things aren't working out just because you were assured by someone else or your studies that your method was the right one.

What started your interest in local transportation?

When my mom first moved to the United States, she didn't feel comfortable driving in a new city, so she began to use public transportation. It was on the bus that she adapted to her new life in America. It was also on the bus where she met her first friends and found a nice support system. She met people who had to jump through extra hoops to pursue jobs and other social activities because they didn't have a car and didn't receive the best service. I became more interested about public transportation systems in different cities more specifically when I began questioning the idea of accessibility and social justice surrounding public transportation services. I had a project related to public transportation and housing segregation in introduction to Urban Sociology: Cities and Society (ANSO 218) which furthered my interest.

How did this lead into your research as a Mellon Fellow?

This interest of mine has slowly been developing and it's what led me to apply for the Mellon Fellowship. I'm going to be doing research in Chicago for two months in public transportation and the Latinx community. I'm studying how Latinx residents navigate public transportation and I'm interested in learning about the relative successes or problems that have come out of using the system. I think a lot of people underestimate public transportation systems because they don't try to understand why public transportation plays such a significant impact for certain groups of people. I've been very happy with the conversations I've had here so far and I'm grateful to assistant professor of anthropology-sociology William Hope for helping out with my project this summer.

What surprised you most about Knox? 

The people. Everyone from staff members, to students, to professors. The Knox community has become a second home. All of my work supervisors have encouraged me to grow as an employee and student, have advised me, or have let me confide in them. The students help me grow as a person and student. When I disagree with them, they help me understand different point of views. When I agree with them, they complement my ideas in ways I wouldn't imagine. And everyone just encourages respectful discussions. The professors have believed in my ideas and have encouraged me to think outside the box. They have been excellent advisors and mentors and I'll forever be grateful with them.

Karen Armendaríz '18 has been involved in the Food Recovery Network and Resources to Resources, both of which she's said have "helped me connect to Galesburg in a deeper level." Through the Food Recovery Network, Armendaríz also worked with other local partners such as Safe Harbor, the Rescue Mission, and the Knox Housing Authority. In the past she's conducted projects such as researching segregation in transportation systems and creating a website for a community economic development plan for Galesburg.

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Printed on Sunday, December 10, 2023