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Urban Semester hails 30th year
November 30, 1998

The University's Urban Semester Program, which gives students an opportunity for study and public service in Hartford, will celebrate its 30th anniversary Friday, December 4, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford.

Mel King, a professor emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be keynote speaker at the event. King is a leading social justice activist in Boston, has taught at universities in the area, run for mayor, and was involved in the formation of the Rainbow Coalition. He also helped organize Nelson Mandela's visit to Boston.

UConn's Urban Semester Program allows students to test what they have learned in the classroom and also gives them a chance to contribute to Hartford, says Louise Simmons, an assistant professor of social work and director of the program..

During their semester in Hartford, students work in government agencies, community and non-profit organizations, and other human service projects. They spend 3.5 days per week in an internship, take part in two weekly seminars on urban issues, and live in the Hartford area.

"By participating in the program students from various backgrounds gain a better understanding of urban life," says Simmons. "Those students who grew up in cities can now see an urban setting where they can take part in institutions that hold a community together. And students from suburban and rural areas learn to distinguish reality from the myths about people living in an urban environment."

Simmons says many of the nearly 700 students who have gone through the semester-long program have continued to be involved in the Hartford area.

Zubair Khan