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Pictured is Michelina Pollini, Point Park graduate education student, Pittsburgh Schweitzer Program Fellow and Programming Assistant for the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater. | Photo by Jim Judkis

Meet Michelina Pollini

Fellowship: Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program
Job title:
Programming Assistant
Employer: Pittsburgh International Children's Theater and Festival
Currently pursuing: Master of Education in Secondary Education with a concentration in English
Expected graduation:
December 2014
Degrees earned: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts with double concentrations in Performance/Directing and Technical Theatre, University of Pittsburgh, 2009
Hometown: Bromall, Pa.
Now living
in: Wexford, Pa.
Hobbies/Interests: Acting, singing, theater education, international performing arts, volunteering with parish's high school program and reading

How were you selected for the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program?

The goal of the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program is to provide opportunities for students to provide health and human services to underserved populations. Applicants were required to submit a program proposal, which included partnering with a local community agency and designing a community service project that reflected that agency's interest while providing direct service to an underserved population. The project needed to focus on addressing health and/or the social determinants of health in the population served.

After submitting my proposal, I was selected as a finalist and invited for an in-person interview conducted by a selection committee comprised of the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program Advisory Board, staff and Fellows for Life (past fellowship recipients). Following this, I was sent a letter offering me a spot in the 2013-2014 Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program.

Tell us more about your fellowship project.

The overarching goal of my project is to offer underserved Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh patients and their families an opportunity to experience creative learning through theater arts while providing for the emotional, social and familial needs of these individuals. This goal will be met by creating age and grade appropriate theater arts-based educational exploration sessions for patients and their families.

My project keeps students engaged in learning during their time away from school and provides underserved patients with educational stimulation and imaginative lessons. This will give fun opportunities to children who may otherwise miss the chance to participate in social learning due to being absent from school or community activities. Also, sibling and guardian participation assists families in recapturing lost bonding time missed within their home due to a hospital stay.

What factors made you choose a graduate degree in secondary English?

I chose to become a secondary English educator because of my previous work with students of varying abilities, economic backgrounds and cultures as well as my desire to serve them better as an educator. My hope is to teach at an inner-city high school that needs both an English literature/composition teacher as well as a theatre educator. (Frequently, there is a lot of crossover work between these two subject areas within public schools).

What has been your favorite grad school experience so far?

What is truly beautiful about Point Park University's education department is the viewpoint that current and future educators should respect and honor their students as individuals. I have observed the power of strong teacher-to-student interactions and how it creates successful cognitive learning.

Tell us about your career goals.

I hope to one day earn a Ph.D. in education and to research more deeply the effect theater has on cognitive learning in main classroom subjects including English, social studies, math and science. I hope to continue my development of innovative ways to communicate with students, parents and administrators as well as navigate the challenges of working in a public school throughout my pursuit of a master's degree at Point Park.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I've received a lot of support during the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellowship Program application process. I want to thank the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellowship and the national Albert Schweitzer Fellowship offices, my academic advisor Dr. Richard Gutkind, all of my graduate education professors at Point Park, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (for their willingness to dive into this adventure with me), my friends (who have supported my growth as I went through many versions of this project) and my family (especially my mother, who supports every dream I pursue).

More About: graduate education, English, secondary education, education