"The whole CESL program was really welcoming and made me feel like I have a place here at UMass."
CESL Program: IMPACT! And Citizens Scholar Program
Major: Russian and Eastern European Studies and Political Science
The most striking part of CSP for me was the first semester in the "The Good Society." It was liberating because the class was the first chance I had to really imagine what I thought the world should look like. In so many other classes, we focus on how can we fix this, or how can we change this, or what don’t we like and it’s always locked into this very basic realm of the society we already live in. You never get a chance to branch out or envision something better. Or something alternative. And I really like that aspect about CSP. I think "Good Society" helped me establish my ideas because I finally had to put all of my floating thoughts on paper without feeling constrained by or having to impress a professor. I did not have to fit into a curriculum model and I was not put down with a professor saying my ideas are very nice but unrealistic; "Good Society" is a good starting point to work at because you definitely learn more about yourself and how you see the world.
Also, I’m an outside student—I’m coming from Tennessee. When I came in to UMass, obviously, I didn’t have a clue who anybody was. I got involved in the IMPACT! program basically because Shuli Archer, the coordinator at that time, was from Georgia. I made friends with the one Southerner who was here, and the whole CESL program was really welcoming and made me feel like I have a place here at UMass. My IMPACT! class, my CSP cohort, the people in the office—they’re the family I have up here, so it’s always a welcoming place to go. I really welcome that.