Rachel Hopkins has spent the past five years in the city of Pittsburgh, serving students from K-12 to the university level as an instructor, mentor, and advisor. Her work is asset-based and equity-framed in nature as she champions students’ academic, professional, and socioemotional development. Over the past year, Rachel has engaged in the University of Pittsburgh’s Heinz Fellows Program which seeks to train forward-thinking and social justice-oriented individuals to advance equity in education through the Center for Urban Education. There she provided direct mentorship and academic instruction to students, collaborated with teachers and administrators to develop equitable and student-centered practices, and co-created a dynamic and affirming professional learning experience for school partners and fellow cohort members as a Lead Fellow. Her work with K-12 youth has spanned multiple contexts in school and community spaces, such as community and recreation centers, makerspaces, and in the classroom.
Rachel has demonstrated a commitment to university-community partnerships as she spent three of her four years at the University of Pittsburgh in community engagement internships, each increasing in responsibility. She served as an assistant to the teaching artists of Assemble makerspace, managed all social media communications for the Homewood-Brushton Family Support Center, and developed a comprehensive evaluative report for Steel Smiling’s Beams to Bridges Mental Health Training Program during her time as a student. At the collegiate level, she also supported Black and Brown students at the University of Pittsburgh in their first-year transitions into a predominantly white institution and students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the Community College of Allegheny County in their social development and exploration of the broader Pittsburgh community. In addition, she provided guidance in the University’s Career Center and the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity, connecting students with meaningful research and professional experiences, and supporting them in leveraging their skill sets and building a supportive professional network.
Rachel graduated from the University of Pittsburgh summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology, and minor in social work. As the Program Manager at Schools That Can, Rachel’s work is informed by her interdisciplinary background and constantly evolving dedication to social justice.