Alanna Schwartz leads the way through U-M Englehardt Social Justice Project
HFC honors student Alanna Grace Marie Schwartz credits the success in her academic career to the College.
“I would be so lost – both academically and financially – if I didn’t come to HFC,” said Schwartz, of Royal Oak. “Most of my accomplishments have been presented to me through the Black Male and QUEENS Focus Group (BMQFG). Joining this academic group changed my life for the better. I have always been a high-achieving student, and the BMQFG showed me my true potential by providing adequate financial aid to me, a student who pays her own tuition out of pocket. I have seized so many academic opportunities through the BMQFG and HFC.”
In addition to the BMQFG, Schwartz – a Lincoln Park High School honors alumna – is a member of the Henry Ford II Honors Program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She will graduate from HFC at the end of 2021, earning her associate degree in liberal arts with a focus on sociology. Schwartz plans to transfer to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she will major in sociology with a focus on law and social change. In fact, she has been accepted into the U-M Mellon Scholars Research Fellowship program.
This summer, Schwartz is participating in the U-M Englehardt Social Justice Fellowship (ESJF). The ESJF offers HFC students the opportunity to propose a mutually beneficial summer project with a sponsoring organization/community partner.
ESJF project – “Shop Detroit Farms”
Schwartz’s ESJF project consisted of her working with community partner, the Detroit Black Community Food Service Network (DBCFSN).
Since 2008, DBCFSN has operated D-Town Farm, the largest of Detroit's many gardens and farms. The farm occupies slightly more than seven acres inside the Meyers Tree Nursery in the City of Detroit's Rouge Park. D-Town Farm grows more than 30 different kinds of fruits, vegetables, and herbs each year by using sustainable, regenerative methods.
Schwartz, D-Town Farm, and Oakland Avenue Urban Farm in Detroit collaborated on and launched a website called “Shop Detroit Farms”. The purpose of this website is to give farmers and vendors a platform to sell their products.
“This project was started to make shopping for organic produce and products easier for the residents of Detroit, a city with many areas that are considered food deserts. Working on this project has been so fulfilling! I have been helping manage their social media to promote the website and the vendors,” explained Schwartz. “I’m so proud and happy to be involved in this project, and I know that I will be a part of similar projects in the future. I am so inspired by this organization to take my passion for whole, organic vegan foods to the next level and participate in more projects that make these foods more accessible in my community.”
BMQFG is a high point of her HFC experience
According to Schwartz, she learned of the ESJF due to her involvement with the BMQFG. Her involvement with the BMQFG led her to participate last year in the U-M Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP).
Her experiences with BMQFG have been a high point of her time at HFC.
“The BMQFG has provided me with endless opportunities to expand my horizons and connections through networking,” she said. “Being a member of the BMQFG makes me proud because we support one another in the most meaningful ways. I have never felt so supported and comforted by a group of people in my life.”
Initially, Schwartz was majoring in studio art at HFC. However, that changed upon attending HFC sociology professor Dr. Kalvin DaRonne Harvell’s lecture “An Uncomfortable Alliance: Racial Microaggressions and the College Campus”. Afterward, she spoke to Harvell at length. She joined the BMQFG and, after reflection, changed her major.
“Alanna continues to impress. Her work ethic in the academy and abroad should be a model by which we fashion other students,” said Harvell. “Alanna is a scholar, artist, and activist. She is continuing in the intellectual tradition, honoring the unbroken circle of intellectual giants/queens like (prominent African-American female scholars and activists) Ana Julia Cooper, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lucy Craft Laney, and Nannie Helen Burroughs. I appreciate her for allowing me to be part of her journey!”
Ready to attend U-M with confidence
“Thanks to HFC, I am prepared to attend a university with full confidence and, most likely, on a full scholarship, in part due to my amazing CV/résumé, which is full of academic activities I have completed at HFC,” she said.
Although Schwartz is no longer majoring in art, she still practices it. She has learned to merge art and sociology.
“I’m working toward getting a new studio to do more artwork and get back to creating art every day,” she said. “Digital art has also become a large part of my career in sociology. I have completed a few visual sociology art shows sponsored by the BMQFG. I am so glad I found a way to integrate two of my loves, sociology and art!”