Jenna Davidson-Catalano ’14 recently completed an internship with Geneva City Schools social worker Susan McGowan which focused on self-esteem and media awareness. Davidson-Catalano created and facilitated self-esteem workshops with a group of seventh-grade girls at Geneva Middle School in order to discuss the ways in which the media influences the self-esteem of women. The self esteem program lasted for eight weeks of the semester-long internship. She will present the results of her collaboration with Geneva Middle School during the Engaged Scholarship Forum at the end of the academic year.
Her internship with McGowan also involved shadowing the social worker and participating in daily responsibilities at Geneva Middle School’s counseling center. With majors in arts, education and dance, Davidson-Catalano initially created plans for her self-esteem workshop as part of an independent study during her sophomore year, under the advisement of Professor of Dance Donna Davenport.
“Through my studies in the education, dance, and psychology departments I have been able to explore the effects of unrealistic beauty expectations on women and how to teach young girls that beauty is more than what you look like; there are many different ways to be beautiful,” she says.
Under the guidance of Associate Professor of Psychology Julie Newman Kingery, the project also saw the production of a two-minute public service announcement video featuring the students from Geneva Middle School. The girls took part in a pledge to redefine the concept of beauty, and each student was encouraged to create a plan to alter others’ perceptions surrounding the issue. Many pledged to educate their peers or to buy products that portray women in healthy ways. This video was shared on the Geneva City Schools Facebook page and has since received laudable attention from the Geneva community.
“The goal of the public service announcement was to teach the girls that they can create change and play an active role in forming the type of society that they want to live in,” Davidson-Catalano says.
She is currently a member of the HWS teacher education program for elementary and special education. This semester, Davidson-Catalano is student-teaching in a fourth-grade classroom and also serving as co-president of the Koshare dance collective on campus.
Davidson-Catalano plans to present her project on campus at the Engaged Scholarship Forum on May 6. Her video project also may be viewed online.