Reflections from Maggie: A CS Summer Student

Hello!!  I’m so incredibly excited to share with you, the readers, about my adventures and experiences here in one of my favorite cities – CHICAGO!   

For introductory purposes, my name is Maggie Donnell. I am a rising junior psychology and social justice double major at Ouachita (pronounced “Wa-Shi-Taw”) Baptist University located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. It’s located about an hour Northeast of Texas, in case you’re needing more of a visual of just how “far South” it is. This Summer I have the privilege of interning at The Family Defense Center, a legal aid organization that advocates justice for families in the Illinois child welfare system, as their Communications and Development Intern.  

And, you’re probably quite curious how I came to the decision to live and work 12 hours from home this summer. 

I’ve only been to Chicago twice, and both times were for day trips on our “free days”. I grew up dancing, and we competed at Nationals held in a suburb of Chicago. When we weren’t at the competition, my family and I did your typical tourist stuff: Magnificent Mile, The Bean, and more. 

But even in the few hours I spent, I fell in love with this city. When you’re in Chicago, there is no denying you are in one of the largest cities in the United States. However, there’s something different about Chicago. 

A large part of that can be attributed to the 77 diverse yet interconnected neighborhoods that define Chicago. One of my favorite things so far has been the opportunity to just explore different neighborhoods: Pilsen, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Englewood, and so many more!! It’s so interesting to learn the stories of these communities and of their residents. Chicagoans take great pride in where they live, and it’s been exciting to see my own definition of “home” be molded by what I have seen. 

Exploring the different neighborhoods and all they have to offer is SO much fun, but Chicago in the summer is just exciting in itself! People are not kidding when they say there is ALWAYS something going on. From farmer’s markets to block parties to music and food festivals to theater productions, there is literally an event going on all. the. time.  

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What’s super great, too, is the other students here. I have met the best people who have become so dear to me. Whether we’re sitting in someone’s apartment, just talking about life, or out on the town looking for the coolest looking place to eat, it’s always a good time!  

I don’t feel as though there are enough words, or maybe even the right words, to express my appreciation for this truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ve been here for exactly a month and have already been stretched and challenged in ways like never before but have also never felt so at peace. I’m not the adventurous-type but choosing to spend my summer in this way has already proven to be the most enriching and rewarding adventure.  

As one of my catch-phrases goes, in which everyone in the program can attest to me saying DAILY, I am living my best life and truly am thriving 


P.S. Shout-out to my girl Claire for letting me use her photos. Is she not just crazy talented?? Trust me, I have zero photos that look anything like hers.