Named in honor of Richard “Dick” Cone, the Dick Cone Award for Engaged Graduate Scholarship aims to honor and recognize the efforts of graduate students who bring advanced awareness and skills to meet the specific needs of the community.
Dick was the beloved director of the USC Joint Educational Project from 1980 to 2002 and a pioneer in the field of service learning and community engagement. Driven by a deep commitment to social justice and education, Dick effectively pushed universities to reconsider the role they play in their communities and he was instrumental in national recognition of USC’s K12 partnerships.
This year’s Dick Cone Award recipients are Jessica Stellmann and Alexander Tron.
Jessica spent seven semesters as a JEP graduate assistant, where she wrote and revised reflective syllabus questions with the primary goal of guiding the reflective process of undergraduate JEP participants toward a better understanding of community. and their experiences within it, thus facilitating this working relationship. But even when she was not funded by JEP in her second year, she remained present in the JEP house, spending several hours each week that year volunteering with education programs. STEM. There, she developed a set of lesson plans designed to teach K-5 students the science of climate change, led a teacher professional development session on this curriculum, and successfully applied for a grant for the JEP who helped STEM education programs get ten thousand dollars. to build and install augmented reality sandboxes in our partner schools as part of an initiative to both increase student access to emerging technologies and provide a unique tool for teaching Earth science . She also took the helm of JEP’s STEM education programs when the cast of director Dieuwertje “DJ” went on maternity leave in the summer of 2021.
Beyond JEP, Jessica has also built relationships with dozens of local families through her work with the non-profit organization Project Scientist. Project Scientist is an informal science education program for girls aged 4-12, with the aim of increasing their confidence and interest in STEM. Jessica served as Site Director for Project Scientist for three summers, leading their Summer Academy at USC in 2019, as well as their Academy in Irvine (2019) and West LA (2018). For the 2020 Academy, in addition to leading the virtual session from Central Los Angeles, she helped develop the shift to virtual programming.
Alex, having experienced firsthand the struggles faced by marginalized citizens in today’s world, has also dedicated his entire graduate career to their community engagement and service. Alex has worked to recruit and train law students as pro bono co-chair of the Public Interest Law Foundation at USC, coordinated USC-sponsored erasure clinics in Los Angeles, and continues to develop law enforcement workshops. interdisciplinary rehabilitation with the USC Correctional Education Project. Additionally, Alex was a key contributor and board member of the Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Law Foundation (“PILF”) – a student-led nonprofit organization that promotes social justice, equal access to the law and empowerment of marginalized and underrepresented communities by providing opportunities for pro bono clinics at local organizations, hosting conferences on key issues, and supporting students in work of interest public over the summer through a grant program. As part of their work, Alex encouraged student participation in state-by-state radiation research for National Radiation Week and other radiation clinics.
When the shift in the pandemic hit, Alex was determined to continue his work virtually and contacted California Rural Legal Assistance (“CRLA”) to learn more about the virtual clinics they hosted, ultimately helping more than 22 clients to clear their records and help plan, coordinate and host virtual clinics themselves. Currently, Alex is working to help over-policed communities go beyond simply clearing individuals’ criminal records and helping them create a positive narrative for themselves to enable life-changing transformation. .