RDC Alumni presents project on Parliament Hill

Melissa Barritt assessed settlement programs and services for immigrant women in Central Alberta.

Red Deer College (RDC) Alumnia Melissa Barritt was recently selected by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) to be part of the Student Innovation Showcase in Ottawa on Parliament Hill.

From Feb 12-13, Barritt displayed a project she was involved with while she attended RDC.

“I’m so honoured to have been chosen to represent both this project and Red Deer College,” Barritt said. “It meant a great deal to me to be able to connect with people from across the country and share how college students can positively impact community.”

Barritt was part of the RDC Group, led by Sociology instructors Dr. Choon-Lee Chai and Dr. Krista Robson, who assessed settlement programs and services for immigrant women in Central Alberta. The project was in conjunction with the Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association. The team identify experiences and needs, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of settlement programs and services.

The goal of the project was to address practical issues within the community.

“When we understand the settlement conditions of immigrant women, then we can work with our community partners to develop solutions,” said Dr. Chai. “As one example of an outcome from this project, we’ve developed a website that serves as a centralized information portal for all settlement services that people might require, so it’s another way to help make the transition easier and to make services more accessible for immigrant women.”

Barritt was specifically involved with the Photovoice project, where she encouraged immigrant women to take pictures of their experiences and share their stories. This was preceded by an extensive literature survey and followed up by in-depth interviews with participants.

“I was able to connect and build meaningful relationships with these women,” Barritt said. “In some cases, I was invited into their homes, so I really had an opportunity to see what their lives were like and to learn about their experiences. I could have read about the issues that immigrant women face, but this research experience allowed me to connect with the women and to provide listening support, gaining a much deeper understanding about their lives.”

Barritt has now moved onto a Bachelor of Education after completing her UofC collaborative sociology degree at RDC.

“Because of this research experience, I will be more inclusive in my education, which will benefit my students,” she said.

-Vaughan

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