Ali Boyd ('11)

"The Poverty Studies program has had a profound impact on both my academic and personal experience at Furman. I arrived at Furman already knowing that I wanted to study abroad in the Global South, the developing world. In other words, I had an agenda from the start of my career at Furman; I wanted my connection to the issues such as poverty, social justice, and development to evolve from emotional -- feeling guilty or sad in the face of sobering themes -- to intellectual -- how to analyze and act in response to problems.

The fact that Furman is one of the few universities in the country offering students a curriculum in Poverty Studies is a testament to the academic quality of the program. Furman is on the cutting edge of academic studies, allowing their students to appropriately respond to the urgency of the world's greatest needs. The structure of the program allows students to complement traditional majors with interdisciplinary courses. Consequently, the program continues to grow and attract a more diverse student demographic. Poverty Studies is no longer just for the Sociologists or Political Scientists among us, we now have Economists, Artists, and Scientists among our ranks.

During my time at Furman, the Poverty Studies program was not just an academic interest of mine; it offered a network of people all dedicated to the same end. I found myself among a dynamic group of people who were all passionate about mobilizing resources in an attempt to respond to the crises of the world. My colleagues became mentors, and my mentors, friends. I often found myself among a unique group of people with an insatiable desire to learn more; we traded questions, resources, books, and ideas as fast as our email would allow us. Often times the conversation would continue over meals in the Dining Hall and walks back to dorms. In turn, this network also functioned as a support group; we would push each other and comfort one another -- urging one another to seek out answers and not give up in the face of apathy.

Most importantly, my Poverty Studies minor was a vehicle to my future career in Public Interest law. While at Furman, I was able to engage current events in my classes, combining the theoretical with grassroots reality. For example, in my introductory course for Poverty Studies I was able to apply my foundational knowledge of American poverty to my personal interest in low income immigrants. A few months after graduation, I moved to the US Mexico border and found myself referencing resources from my classes at Furman. In short, my coursework became even more engaging after graduation.

I credit my current job with the Border Servant Corps to the Poverty Studies program at Furman. I was introduced to the concept of a volunteer year by another Poverty Studies student, Laura Armstrong. As a volunteer in El Paso, I find myself confronting the same themes I studied while at Furman on a daily basis. I am most excited about my job because I feel my current lifestyle is the one that has the most integrity for me. After all that I have learned about those who struggle with poverty and all those committed to fighting it, it is only appropriate that my job honors the education I have received."

Melissa Carnall ('11)

"I'm at the Amate House for a one-year volunteer program that emphasizes community, faith, service, social justice, and stewardship. We live in community with other volunteers (3 houses of 10 people each) in the Chicago area and we work at our own service sites for 10 months-churches, schools, or non-profits...It provides a great context for deepening our understanding of social justice and service, while also learning how to live intentionally in community with others. I knew from all my PVS courses (and Religion and Latin American Studies courses) that finding a program that was grounded in the above commitments was exactly what I was looking for! I couldn't imagine anything else post-college than sharing my life in this way, striving to live out the call to solidarity and social justice that I learned at Furman."

Caitlyn Griffith ('10)

"I am in the Peace Corps teaching English in a secondary school in Rwanda.  PVS prepared me with an understanding of the great complexity of poverty which I certainly see here."

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