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Social Justice and Community Service Go Hand-in-Hand for QCC Students

Contact: Karen Hutner
Office of Institutional Communications
khutner [at]

Release Date: 

WORCESTER, MA— September 27, 2022—Four Quinsigamond Community College students, Britney Acquah, Whitney Acquah, Gabrielle Gedeon, and Eva Kadriu just wrapped up a summer working with youths in area community-based organizations. Known as Woo Labs Hanover Fellows, the students were chosen by the Woo-Labs program, an organization that began in 2021 through the Worcester Education Collaborative in partnership with area organizations. The program offers community-focused, equitable, project-based learning to K-12 students. Fellows work with the staff of area organizations to create and implement learning projects for groups of young students.

Woo-Labs program was designed to help college students experience the joys and challenges of working with youth as teachers and mentors, in the hopes that they would “catch the bug” and want to pursue these career pathways, according to QCC STEM Initiatives Administrator Adrienne Linnell.

“These students became aware of the Woo-Labs opportunity by first participating in a learning experience funded by a grant program called MassTeach, where they shadowed STEM teachers at Burncoat High School,” Linnell said.

The Fellows were given training and professional development prior to and during the program and were placed at various community-based organizations, such as African Community Education and the YWCA.  Woo-Labs also fosters soft skills for the participating Fellows.  

“Hands-on learning is so engaging for students. Organizations are free to create projects that best support their program objectives and student interests. We help them align the projects with a research-backed framework, which involves linking project plans to explicit academic standards and social-emotional skills,” WEC Assistant Director Emily Dodge said.

 Kadriu, an Engineering student, was a Fellow at the YWCA Camp Wind-in-the-Pines.

“I’ve always liked volunteering and I like pushing others to do the same. It is rewarding. Teaching others, especially younger students, helped me explain how good community service is and how rewarding it is to fight for social justice. For example, we’re doing a Kindness Quilt. We talked about community service and started off simple with helping around the campsite or at home and then coming up with ideas for things to do to help the community,” Kadriu said.

Britney Acquah, who is in QCC’s general studies program, completed her fellowship at the Guild of St. Agnes, where she enjoyed seeing how a program runs from behind the scenes.

“I loved every part of it,” she said. “Talking to students can be nerve-wracking but classes at QCC helped prepare me to communicate effectively and be a good listener. I can also use the things I learned through Woo-Labs in my studies at QCC, like patience and empathy. Working with people’s differences and processing new ideas will help me in the future.”

Gedeon, a QCC nursing major, said she noticed that her QCC classes gave her a good foundation for working in a program such as Woo-Labs as well as gaining new skills from the program.

“Working with children of different cultures, faiths and educational background is something I’ll need in the career I want to go into. Critical thinking and psychology helped me with that. I used what I learned in class and visualized it while working with the kids,” she said.

Participating organizations also noticed the benefits of Woo-Labs.

“The Woo-Labs program has been terrific for our organization. The Fellows seem to be learning a lot about childcare in general and seeing what it takes to make such a large program flow,” said Director of School Age Programs, Nicole Martin from Guild of St. Agnes. “When children learn to work as a team, ask important questions and find answers together, it promotes some sense of social justice. No matter the topic being discussed, when we hear about various opinions and concerns it forces us to see things from a different point of view. Helping our children to think out of the box and be more open-minded is always a goal of ours.”

Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.