14:31 PM

UHD Students Volunteer at WorkFaith Connection

Work Faith Connection Graduation PhotoFriday, April 8, University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) students enrolled in Professor Jonathan Chism's United States History to 1877 and African American History classes attended the 100th graduation of the eight-day job readiness program at the WorkFaith Connection. The WorkFaith Connection encourages disadvantaged job seekers and helps equip them with the skills and beliefs to gain employment and lead healthy, productive and spiritually rich lives.

Students were honored to provide their support and encouragement to the graduates, as many people in the program have struggled with addiction, prison and homelessness.

"This program builds confidence and instills hope in individuals who feel despair and hopelessness," said Doris Brown, a UHD student. She added, "Graduates beamed with achievement, their self-esteem was heightened, and one could feel the excitement in the room. It was truly a humbling experience."

Students were so moved, many expressed an interest in returning as volunteers.

Student Michael Penright said, "It was a joy to see everyday people overcome their struggles. And although this started out as just an extra credit assignment, it became so much more. I'd definitely like to do another volunteer placement at WorkFaith in the near future."

Professor Chism said the goal of the extra credit assignment was to help students appreciate the many ways of accessing and doing history.

"The study of history is not restricted to textbooks and the classroom," said Professor Chism. "History is also learned through engaging people and listening to their stories and understanding the complexity of their lives. This field of history is called oral history. I hoped that students in my class would respect and learn to appreciate raw, unscripted stories, a person's narration and their reflection of their past. Furthermore, I hope that the content we cover in the course provides them with a way of placing individuals' stories within a broader framework, discussed in class and in course readings."