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America Salago Hernandez '18 worked as an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Aid for refugee children.


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America Salgado Hernandez '18

Chicago, Illinois

Major in Anthropology and Sociology, Minors in Gender and Women’s Studies & Social Service

America worked as an an Early Childhood Education Aide for refugee children with the support of a Mellon Fellowship.

America Salago Hernandez '18 worked as an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Aid for refugee children.

What did you do as a Mellon Fellow?

A large portion of my summer was spent in the Ravenswood neighborhood in Chicago working at Heartland Alliance as an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Aide. I was able to provide age-appropriate activities for refugee children ages two to six. The children and families that Heartland serves come from Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Syria, and Congo. Activities vary, but they included such things as singing, playing games, and beginning to learn English through various teaching methods. I was also able to shadow a child development specialist and learned how trauma can affect the educational development of the refugee children.

How did your Mellon Fellowship influence your experience, and your future plans?

I usually work a full-time job during the summer to pay for my college expenses—because of the Mellon Fellowship, I was able to treat my work with Heartland Alliance as a second job. I was also able to pay for my transportation because the Ravenswood neighborhood is about an hour commute from my home near downtown Chicago. 

I've always wanted to be a clinical social worker and I'm now more than convinced of that. While the children play and learn in the ECE room, their parents are in the next room learning English or trying to find jobs to support their families. Everyone at Heartland Alliance has an important role to play and I was very fortunate to be a part of that.

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

I learned about the real impact that Knox students have on Galesburg through their community involvement. I started volunteering and enhanced my leadership skills through various clubs and organizations on campus. This has also led me to get involved in my hometown and is the reasons why I have been involved with Heartland Alliance.

America is a member of Knox's Αlpha Beta Gamma chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. She's participated in Blessings in a Backpack, the student organization M.E.Ch.A., and the Success Program. She was also an Alumni Ambassador.

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Printed on Tuesday, April 24, 2018