Dr. Noel Casiano, my supervisor (L) and me (R)
Full Name: Juliana Holcomb ‘19
Summer Internship: The Ana Grace Project
1. What were you up to this past summer?
This past summer, I was a research and data intern at The Ana Grace Project in New Britain, CT. Created after the tragedy at Sandy Hook which took the life of Ana Grace Márquez-Green as well as many others, this not-for-profit organization is dedicated to bringing social emotional learning, trauma-informed care, and school-based mental health services into New Britain Elementary schools through their “Love Wins” program. In this role, I analyzed teacher, school administrator, and faculty-reported responses from the ARTIC (Attitudes Related to Trauma Informed Care) measure; collected, organized, and explained trends in disciplinary-related outcomes between 2012-2018 from the Connecticut State Department of Education; and wrote, edited, and prepared APA-style manuscripts for publication. I was able to contribute to three manuscripts that will hopefully be published in the near future and two manuals for the “Love Wins” program.
2. What was your favorite part?
My favorite part was learning about the specific ways in which the “Love Wins” program impacted the elementary school-aged children of New Britain. Through the data and trends I analyzed, I was able to witness the ways in which the implementation of “Love Wins” quantitatively improved school-based outcomes such as in- and out-of-school suspensions and chronic absenteeism. On a more qualitative level, I was able to learn about individual stories of how “Love Wins” impacted the New Britain community which was equally as inspiring. Hearing these testimonials made me very hopeful for the future of school-based mental health services.
I also was awestruck by the strength, dedication, and passion of Nelba Márquez-Green as she worked tirelessly each and every day to improve the educational system for low-income students and students of color so that a tragedy like Sandy Hook, which took the life of her daughter, would never happen again. Her dedication was unlike any I had ever seen before, and I was fortunate to work with her.
3. What surprised you?
I was surprised by the amount of collaboration that took place within The Ana Grace Project. People from all different backgrounds and career paths came together to create this not-for-profit and manage its implementation within schools. For example, mental health professionals such as Marriage Family Therapists, Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists all worked together in order to provide the school-based mental health services to students as well as counsel them individually and in a family or group setting. Teachers, within the many elementary schools of New Britain, were also a critical piece of the “Love Wins” program which I saw when I went to a talent show at one of the schools. The administrators and staff of the school were also highly involved. Seeing this community collaboration was a happy surprise I saw during my time at The Ana Grace Project. They practiced what they preached and emphasized community relations and support in all that they did.