Student Spotlight: Riley Schornak '24

by William French '26
October 10, 2023

Petoskey, Michigan


Community Engagement through Swearer:
iProv Fellow
Royce Fellow
SHAPE  (Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education)
Swearer Center Student Advisory Committee. 

Riley Schornak ‘24 took her first Community-Based Learning and Research (CBLR) course in the Africana Studies department during the summer of her first year, where she learned about ethnography and data collection through participant observation in the context of communities in Providence. 

Schornak is concentrating in Sociology and pursuing an Engaged Scholarship Certificate (ESC) on the intersections between health and the environment from a social sciences perspective. Sponsored by the Department of Sociology and the Swearer Center, the certificate allows undergraduate students to investigate public, civic and/or social justice issues that they are passionate about through the integration of academic study with community-based learning, research and action. 

Last Spring, Schornak took the environmental studies course, “Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems.” This inspired her to volunteer for community partners throughout Providence. She worked with the Rhode Island Nature Conservancy where she focused on researching communities throughout Providence to recommend improving access to green spaces. “Providence has been my home. I want to make Providence my home. I want to be here and understand what's happening here.” 

After receiving the Swearer Center’s iProv Fellowship, Schornak began working with Groundwork Rhode Island, a non-profit based in Providence and Pawtucket, to collaborate with high school students in their youth employment program on different environmental stewardship projects.

Schornak is also a SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education) Facilitator and member of the Swearer Center Student Advisory Committee. 

This year, Riley hopes to connect what she has learned in the CBLR courses that she took as part of ESC requirements in her senior thesis. “I want to be doing work where I'm working in a community, building up the strength of a community to reach a goal, to reach justice or equity in one form or another.”