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Ashley Muscarella

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Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
2015
Home Institution: 
University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg
Heinz Programming Area: 
Education
Study Abroad Country: 
South Africa
International Experience

Ashley Muscarella studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa for four weeks. She studied American Foreign Policy in Africa and learned about the United States and the actions it has taken in Africa since the 1700s. She also studied Social Entrepreneurship where she learned how we can fulfill our dreams and desires to be successful by also helping others by establishing socially responsible businesses, projects, and nonprofit organizations. From this class, she has been inspired to create literacy programs throughout Pennsylvania. She is the State President of the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association where she represents 10,000 student teachers and has the resources to implement projects to make a difference in the lives of students throughout Pennsylvania. While in Cape Town, Ashley traveled with her classmates on Fridays to different cultural, political, and geographical landmarks throughout Cape Town, which included the District 6 Museum, Bo Kapp, Robbin Island, Castle of Good Hope, Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain National Reserve Park, Consulate Building, Boulder Beach, among others. On weekends, she took trips to social and cultural districts throughout Cape Town. These trips included visiting three schools in Khayelitsha, exploring social entrepreneurship businesses in neighboring townships, Kierstenbosh National Botanical Gardens, Signal Hill, Hout Bay, and Clifton, among others. She spent a day climbing 3,000 ft of Table Mountain, fulfilling a personal goal and setting her on a successful journey of fitness. She also fulfilled a life goal of swimming with Great White Sharks in Gansbaai. She describes this as the most humbling encounter she experienced with nature. Much of her free time was spent conversing with South Africans about education and the differences between cultures. She learned about the education system, schooling in South Africa, and social, political, and economic issues which plague the country today. Ashley describes her experiences in Cape Town, South Africa as the single most humbling, eye opening experience of her life.

Community Engagement Experience
CEE Title: 
Poverty Abroad: What are the Global Factors?

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg 2015 Vira Heinz Cohort presented a workshop entitled Poverty Abroad: What are the Global Factors? The workshop allowed the Greensburg community to explore the concept of poverty and how it affects the world as well as their own community. The three cohort members each discussed the poverty they experienced while abroad and asked for questions. The discussion included a combination of topics including extreme poverty, inequality, the Gini Coefficient, among others. Following this, two campus professors were asked questions to address the issues surrounding poverty. Following the discussion, the floor was opened to questions and the audience was asked to think about poverty in their own lives and what they can do to address it. A very in-depth and intriguing conversation followed the presentation, including what they three Vira’s plan to do to combat poverty following our CEE. The experience enriched the lives of the Greensburg community as well as developed the leadership skills for the 2015 UPG Vira Heinz Cohort.

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