Alannah Bell headshot

Alannah interned for the UVA Repair Lab's Environmental Justice Policy Clinic, assisting with a project aimed to protect Norfolk residents against recurrent floods and climate gentrification.

“This experience deepened my understanding of the genuine importance of community engagement in any study having to do with people. Written data or calculated numbers can only tell you a fraction of what there is to understand about any population. It's listening to the lived experiences of people -- to what local knowledge they want to share -- that is key to understanding a community as an outsider. In this way, this experience has shown me how valuable and important it is to listen to the people who you are working for, in public service, research, or any other sort of work."

Alannah Bell

UVA Repair Lab intern

Alannah was a rising fourth-year undergraduate student completing a double major in Archaeology and in Global Environments and Sustainability when she completed this internship.

Why did you choose the Wallerstein Scholars Program?

The Wallerstein Scholars Program offered me the chance to pursue fields of study/work that I became interested in over the past year, particularly those of local governance, community engagement, and policy development.

What projects did you work on as a Wallerstein Scholar?

Over this past summer, I've worked among a wonderful group of academics and scholars at the Repair Lab's Environmental Justice Policy Clinic. The project at the lab, "Wading Between Two Titans", has been conducted as a collaboration between our practitioner-in-residence located in Norfolk and university directors, researchers, and students to protect residents against climate gentrification and recurrent floods.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

I think the most exciting and enjoyable part of the internship was traveling to Norfolk with the EJPC lab director, Dr. Jonna Yarrington. During our trip, we got the chance to sort through more library archives, meet lots of very knowledgeable and helpful people, and listen to local Norfolk residents at a community workshop created and run by our practitioner-in-residence, Kim Sudderth. I've been on trips to Norfolk before this past summer, but this experience felt entirely different and far more unique, particularly because our trip this summer gave me the chance to approach the city with a new perspective.

What did you learn as a result of this internship?

As a result of this internship, I am far more comfortable with conducting independent research than I could have ever imagined I would be. Before working with the Repair Lab, the idea of working on a big research project from start to finish seemed like an unbearably daunting task, but it's something that I can officially say that I've done, now. This internship gave me the opportunity to become familiar with the process of independent research, and coinciding this familiarity, a newfound passion in anthropological, community-based research.


Would you recommend the Wallerstein Scholars Program to future students?

I would absolutely recommend the Wallerstein Scholars Program to future students. The work that I've completed as part of my internship with the Repair Lab taught me a lot about how to be a better student -- but most importantly, how to be a better person. These are lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life. They are also experiences that I think are formative for my future, both personally and professionally.