Before beginning her Citizens Politics course this winter, Jordan Isnor (BA ’22) had never thought about app development.
But taking on an experiential education placement with Bethesda, a local not-for-profit organization supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, changed all that.
As a result, the Political Science master’s student was recently recognized as Bethesda’s Volunteer of the Year for developing a safety app for the organization.
Margaret Lockhart, Bethesda’s Director of Administrative Services, says Isnor was “invaluable” during her time with the organization.
“Working with our administration team, Jordan was tasked with reviewing Bethesda’s Business Continuity Plan and Process to identify ways to potentially strengthen and consolidate it,” says Lockhart. “Taking a very innovative approach to the task, Jordan built an app to house this information in a format that our team could continue to utilize and grow. We are so appreciative of the time she dedicated to our organization and are pleased to name her Bethesda’s Volunteer of the Year.”
Isnor — who had doubts about her idea for an app at the start, especially within the time frame of a seven-week placement — began exploring the possibility on her own time.
She spoke with experts in Brock ITS and quickly found that she didn’t need a background in programming to develop a useful tool for Bethesda.
After working through the frustrations of building the app and making it visually appealing, she presented the finished product along with some modules on installation and usage that could be shared with Bethesda staff.
“The app is very similar to the Brock Safety app, which notifies Brock students and staff of emergencies and events on campus,” says Isnor. “The Bethesda Safety app included subsections that included COVID-19 protocols, emergency contact information, different types of emergencies and how app users will get notified in an emergency.”
Assistant Professor Joanne Heritz, who taught the fourth-year and master’s-level course in Winter Term, says she was pleased to see Isnor’s work valued by Bethesda.
Heritz also notes that the structure of the course meant the whole class could gain valuable insight into the work being done for social service organizations and constituency offices in the local community.
“Students reported back each week on what they were doing, so they were able to articulate in the class what they had done and also listen to what other students’ experiences were,” says Heritz. “All in all, it was very positive for the students to engage with these sponsors, who gave very generously of their time and in return had students working on various projects and bringing a different light into the workplaces and organizations.”
Isnor says the placement helped her understand the advantages of being creative at work.
“I think many of us are under the assumption once we enter the workforce that tasks are best completed through rigid approaches, such as report writing,” she says. “Through my placement, I realized I could be equally successful in taking a creative approach, like app-building compared to writing a standard report.”
“It pays to take risks and push your limits,” she says, encouraging her peers to find classes that offer internships where they can build skills, experience and networks.
Above all, Isnor is grateful for the award, which she describes as “humbling.”
“It means the world to me that it was meaningful to them, that I made an impact. I was just doing my job and trying to help out, so I am beyond grateful,” she says.