Eleven Virginia Tech graduate students were named Citizen Scholars for their efforts to combine scholarship with community engagement.

Putu Desy Apriliani, Debarati Basu, Katie Brooks, Catherine Bukowski, Sara Katherine Lamb Harrell, Kathryn Little, Heather Elizabeth Lyne, Thomas Murray, Bryanne Peterson, Jeannie M. Purchase, and Chantel Simpson shared their work and received recognition for their accomplishments at a recent reception during Graduate Education Week.

Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw noted that each project focused on involvement with community, whether in the Blacksburg region or across the globe.

Here are the citizen scholars and their projects:

Putu Desy Apriliani, Bali, Indonesia, is a Ph.D. student in planning, governance, and globalization. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Udayana University in Bali. Her project was Developing a Financial Literacy Workshop for Elementary School Students in a rural area of Bali.

“I chose to design this workshop for elementary students in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, because these students are at the stage where they start to build more financial responsibility as they become less dependent on their parents,” she said.

Debarati Basu, of Kolkata, West Bengal, is a Ph.D. student in engineering education who earned a bachelor’s degree from West Bengal State University of Technology. Basu’s project was Hands-on Minds-on Environmental Education for Engineering Freshmen and Citizens.

“I dedicated 35-38 volunteer hours for developing the project; creating assignments, rubrics, and solutions; aligning the project-activities with the course contents; and assisting almost 20 instructors to implement the project,” she said.

Katie Brooks, of Appalachia, Va., is a Ph.D. student in rhetoric and writing in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia at Wise. Her project was Bridging a Gap to Enhance First-Year Students’ Success Through Writing Instruction.

“Utilizing my research on and interest in Appalachian students in the composition classroom, I assisted in creating, facilitating, planning, and leading workshops and creating curricula for teachers located in lower-income Appalachian counties in Southwest Virginia,” she said.

Catherine Bukowski, of Syracuse, New York, is a Ph.D. student in forestry. She earned a bachelor’s degree from University of North Carolina at Asheville and a master’s degree from the State University of New York. She developed Putting Research into Action: The Hale-Y Community Food Forest in Blacksburg.

The work included “bringing Virginia Tech students to a potluck with gardeners to initially present the idea and collect feedback, planning workdays for establishing and maintaining the garden, presenting a four-week series of workshops on urban food forests for gardeners and students, participating with the Introduction to Cooperative Extension class to use the food forest as a class project, and engagement with civic agriculture and horticulture students for volunteer opportunities,” she wrote.

Sara Katherine Lamb Harrell, of Jackson, Mississippi, is a Ph.D. student in architecture and design research in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. She earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Mississippi State University. Her project was Hike it Baby! New River Valley, aimed at providing an outdoor recreational opportunity for local families so they could develop a sense of community and get out in nature.

“I have learned a lot about the community of new families in the NRV, as well as have become familiar with the surrounding geography and recreation opportunities,” she said of the project, which launched its first hike in March.

Kathryn Little, of Homdel, New Jersey, and Jeannie M. Purchase, of Ellenswood, Georgia, both worked on the Flint Water Educational Outreach effort. Little is a master’s degree student in civil and environmental engineering and earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. Purchase is a Ph.D. student in civil engineering who earned her bachelor’s degree at Clemson University.

“Our goal was to explain the science of what happened and the current state of the city's water, as well as to empower the students to understand that anyone can be a citizen scientist by thinking scientifically to help their community,” they wrote of their effort.

Heather Elizabeth Lyne, of Amherst, Va., is a master’s degree student in public and international affairs. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia. Her project was Developing a Community Place-making Project on the Roanoke River Greenway. Her role involved consulting community leaders and local government officials to build momentum for the project and integrate public opinion and public history into the plan.

A key element is the Arches Project, “to strengthen the civic capacity of five diverse Roanoke neighborhoods (Norwich, Raleigh Court, Wasena, Hurt Park and Mountain View) with mixed histories, heritages, incomes, professions, and beliefs, which converge near the Memorial Avenue Bridge,” she wrote.

Thomas Murray, of Chicago, is a master of fine arts degree student in theatre arts. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State University. He worked on The Right of Way: An Original Documentary Play, an interdisciplinary research project investigating the enduring conflict between motorists and bicyclists on shared city streets.

“As the project lead, I conducted each of the interviews, transcribed many of them, and then adapted the verbatim words of these documentary sources (and transcripts of the criminal court proceedings) into a dramatic play,” he said.

Bryanne Peterson, of Front Royal, Va., is a Ph.D. student in the School of Education. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Mary Baldwin College and a master’s degree at Virginia Tech. Her project was Introducing Radford City Schools Fifth Graders to Engineering Design.

“As a member of the Radford Innovation Committee, I am actively working to bring integrative STEM engineering design experiences to elementary students in Radford City Public Schools,” she wrote.

Chantel Simpson, of Reidsville, North Carolina, is a Ph.D. student in Agricultural and Extension Education. She earned her bachelor’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University. Her project was Using the Community Capitals Framework for the Development of a Community Life Center.

“This research explored the process of the creation of a family life center within the rural, southeastern community of Gibsonville, North Carolina,” she said. “The community capitals framework was used as a guide for developing the space around the intended family life center and its plan for the provision of programs and services.”

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