During SHECP Talks, we invite guests who are or have been part of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, to share valuable insights, experiences, and lessons they have learned throughout their time with SHECP.

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Thursday Apr 27, 2023

A conversation about the power of language to improve programming, alter narratives, and support dignity in the food assistance network
Listen in as Tyler Herman and Robin Swecker from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (BRAFB) discuss the power of language to improve programming, alter public and internal narratives, and support dignity in the food assistance network. Tyler is the Director of Partner Engagement for BRAFB and Robin is the Partner Engagement Manager for the Shenandoah Valley.
Last November, SHECP hosted a Springboard series event to discuss how the language surrounding poverty influences and complicates our daily work and is addressed in various fields of study. Click here to watch the recording and learn more about the panelists. This podcast extends this discussion from the classroom to discussion happening with community partners and individuals these partners are hoping to reach.
During the podcast, Tyler and Robin focus on how changes in the language used at BRAFB (and by their many partner agencies) have impacted which individuals choose to participate in services and how agencies like BRAFB communicate with a wide array of audiences, including community members, individuals in need of assistance, government agencies, funders, and researchers.

Wednesday Oct 19, 2022

On this episode of SHECP Talks, Zionne McCrear, a senior at Birmingham-Southern talks about her work with the Cleveland Clinic this past summer.
The Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit medical center known for their cardiovascular work. The Cleveland Clinic is composed of multiple hospitals around the world; however, Zionne spent her summer in Cleveland, Ohio. Zionne speaks on her work with the Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital where she shadowed doctors as they cared for patients. Over the course of the eight weeks, Zionne gained experience with the basic operations of a hospital as she followed her mentors taking vitals, examining patients, prescribing medicine, and completing charts.
When not interacting with doctors at the Lutheran Hospital, Zionne aided professionals at the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program in Cleveland as well. The Diabetes Prevention Program provides patients with access to diabetes education to revamp their diets, engage in exercise, and so much more.
In the episode, Zionne describes how surprising it was to see how many barriers there are in the medical field. Serving a largely Spanish-speaking population, McCrear recognizes that language is a huge barrier for adequate treatment. As an aspiring woman in medicine, Zionne was motivated by the doctors who considered a patient’s economic status to give the best possible treatments and solutions. She discusses how the doctors considered a patient’s ability to pay for medicine before prescribing it to their patients. Reflecting on her internship, Zionne addresses how her participation in the diabetes prevention program prepared her for the challenges surrounding community engagement as a leader in medicine and the best way to offer resources to patients.
McCrear expressed the importance of the insight she gained for her future goals and advices students considering a SHECP internship to, “have your expectations going into an internship, but also be intentional about staying open minded in order to maximize this opportunity!”
For more information about topics Zionne discusses:
The Cleveland Clinic – The Cleveland Clinic is the world’s first integrated international health system. With more than 65,000 caregivers worldwide, Cleveland Clinic has almost 6 million patient visits per year, at more than 200 locations. The Cleveland Clinic has pioneered carious medical breakthroughs, including the coronary artery bypass surgery.
YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program – As a section of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, the non-profit’s Diabetes Prevention Program introduces wellness topics in a classroom setting to encourage participants to explore healthy eating, physical activity and behavioral changes that can benefit their health. The 12-month group-based diabetes education program consists of at least 16 sessions over the span of many months. The program is led by a trained lifestyle coach who facilitates a small group of people with similar health and wellness goals.

Monday Oct 10, 2022

In this episode of SHECP Talks, Noah Cady, a first-class (or Senior to the rest of us) at the Virginia Military Institute, discusses his 2022 internship with the Food Bank of South Jersey.
The Food Bank of South Jersey is a massive operation with over 200 agency partners, programs of their own and a relatively large advocacy and education arm. Noah talks about his work with the agency’s health and nutrition programming, bringing in his “outsider” perspective, and his deepened understanding of the importance of strong, respectful relationships for impactful community programming.
Later in the episode, Noah talks about waking up to the email telling him that his summer internship was going to be with the Food Bank of South Jersey and being a little confused. Although he thought he would be in a medical clinic, he went into his placement with an open mind. Looking back, he reflected that it was the perfect internship to prepare him to be a creative physician and strong patient advocate down the road - “You aren’t here to totally learn about your career. You are here to learn about the people you are going to serve, and you are going to learn about people in general...It is a skill you’ve got to learn.”
His advice for students considering a SHECP Internship: “Just go for it! I don’t think you can get a better experience of where you get dropped into a community and [gain friends for life].”
For more information about topics Noah discusses:
Food Bank of South Jersey – The Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) exists to provide an immediate solution to the urgent problem of hunger by providing food to people in need, teaching them to eat nutritiously, and helping them to find sustainable ways to improve their lives. FBSJ services Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County and Salem County. We remain the urgent solution these residents turn to when they are hungry and can’t afford to buy food. Through innovation and smart hunger-relief programming, the Food Bank has distributed over 150 million pounds of food, served more than one million fresh, nutritious meals to vulnerable children and provided tens of thousands of food boxes filled with healthy groceries to seniors.
Professional Insights event with Dr. Kelli Jarrell – Dr. Kelli Jarrell, a SHECP alum, talks about her work as a Social Emergency Medicine fellow, her development of the Social Emergency Medicine/Public Health Interest Group, and how her experience as a SHECP Intern impacted her professional life. Watch it here:

Tuesday Aug 30, 2022

A conversation about working at the intersection of poverty and justice
Gerald “Bo” King, Federal Public Defender and Chief of the Fourth Circuit Capital Habeas Unit, he discusses fighting for justice within the realities of our court system. Bo previously worked for the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama and Atlanta Legal Aid Society and will talk about how he saw both poverty and place play a role in his work.

Monday Jun 27, 2022

A conversation about teaching with a course with a strong sense of place with Dr. Rachel Terman from Ohio University
Dr. Terman joins us to talk about her current class, “Sociology of Appalachia,” the strong history and sense of community in the area, cultural assumptions about the area, and looking at region with an asset mindset.

Sunday Apr 10, 2022

A conversation about innovative course design with Dr. Ellen Prusinski from Centre College
Dr. Ellen Prusinski joins us to talk about her current class, “Education Policy and Social Change,” why she values incorporating community-based learning into your coursework, and some of her current research that has roots in a previous class project.   


The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, encourages the study of poverty as a complex social problem, by expanding and improving educational opportunities for college students in a wide range of disciplines and career trajectories.

Through its programs, SHECP and its member institutions prepare students for a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty and enhance human capability, while also supporting connections among students, faculty, staff, and alumni engaged in the study of poverty.

Learn more at

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