Tony’s Voice: The Urban Scholars Initiative

By Tony Johnson, from the University of Minnesota working with the Civil Rights Department

Urban Scholar Anthony Johnson and Director Velma Korbel

Urban Scholar Anthony Johnson with Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel

The Urban Scholars program is a brand new initiative of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights intended to help train the next generation of public sector leaders. Eight highly qualified individuals have been chosen from 106 applicants to be the first Urban Scholars…

I’m Tony, and I happen to be one of those highly qualified, employable, hardworking, beautiful individuals. My fellow urban scholars Ahmed, Dafina, Tayis, Jilla, Teneka, Alex and I have been placed in a variety of city departments. The program strives to place the applicants in departments which correspond with their interests and/ or potential career paths as to provide us with a meaningful learning experience.

Within our respective departments my fellow Urban Scholars and I are given a project which will last the entirety of the 10-week program, as well as smaller projects that may arise during our time in those departments. We also attend events which help us develop a well-rounded perspective of how city government functions as well as an opportunity to interact with the other Urban Scholars.

Each event is unique, ranging from discussions with the mayor, to training with the fire department. I personally have enjoyed most of the events that I have gone to so far but I’m especially looking forward to training with the fire department. When I was young all my friends were into Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles, but I was into the movie Backdraft. I watched it probably 1,000 times so I’m looking forward to living out my childhood fantasy of being a fire fighter!

The Urban Scholars program will continue to evolve as this first group of Urban Scholars defines what the program is, and will continue to be. Each one of us has hit the ground running and we are creating our own unique paths in this program. This blog has been created to provide insights into the experiences of myself and my fellow Urban Scholars as we continue in the ten week program.

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
— Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 26th president of the U.S.

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