Pay it 1964WARD – Finding Mona Lisa

The Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964ward campaign is underway and is already making a difference in the lives of our students. At Union, 100 percent of funds that donors designate to scholarships goes directly to the student. Read how a scholarship is impacting the life of a doctoral candidate and the young students she serves in the feature below.

Her LinkedIn profile lists her current position as dean of Student Services at Wayne County Community College District, but if you live in Detroit, you know Jocelyn Rainey as an artist and art teacher, and as the founder of a gallery. But she is probably best known for creating the Finding Mona Lisa Program 313: Urban Students Become Global Scholars.

Jocelyn RaineyWhile teaching art and art history at Loyola High School in 2007, she asked her students if they wanted to see Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic “Mona Lisa” first-hand, not just in a book. Their enthusiasm sparked the creation of Finding Mona Lisa, the innovative travel program that has provided students (aged 14-19) with the opportunity to visit 10 countries to view famous art works and immerse themselves in other languages and cultures.

Rainey makes sure the students earn their opportunity to expand their lives. They work for a year, training in the areas of language, culture, and how to travel. They are responsible for fundraising to pay for their trip. They must learn about the country they will be visiting, learn the fundamentals of photography so they can document the trip. And, they perform one community service project of their choosing.

A current doctoral student at Union, Rainey says, “What happens is [the students] learn to respect differences, but they also learn how to embrace the similarities that we all have as human beings.” The community and the parents… fund these trips. They want to see these kids go out. And the biggest takeaway is that they understand that anything that they dream and anything they want to do can come true. Because if you’re walking around Detroit, and then the next day you’re riding camels next to the pyramids? Or swimming in the Nile? I mean, c’mon. Your dream can come true.”

Since the inception of Finding Mona Lisa (FL313), Rainey has ushered more than 100 Detroit teens on trips to visit China, Japan, Egypt, South Africa, and Costa Rica. In 2016, FL313 was among the first American high school students to visit Cuba. Some were able to speak Spanish to their hosts, many of whom knew of Detroit because of the Tigers baseball team.

Jocelyn has an amazing story herself; one of surviving gun violence and overcoming paralysis and rejuvenation through the creation of art. She has made a deep impression in Detroit through the art world and through her TedX Detroit presentation. Jocelyn is transforming lives and communities, just as her scholarship is transforming her educational experience as a Ph. D. candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Ethical & Creative Leadership.

Jocelyn is a recipient of the Virginia Ruehlmann Women in Union Scholarship grant from the Helen Steiner Rice Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. The scholarship was created by alumna Virginia R. Wiltse, Ph.D. (2000), who helped to secure the gift to honor her mother, the late Virginia Ruehlmann of Cincinnati. “This scholarship is a tribute to my mother’s decades of service. Her life and how she personified the value of higher education mirrored the value of higher education of Helen Steiner Rice, the poet,” Dr. Wiltse said. “My experience at Union was, in every way, transformative, and there is a clear link between what I studied at Union and who I have become since my graduation from the Ph.D. program in 2000. I love Union. The experience of Union changed me. For that I will be forever grateful.”

For Jocelyn, the scholarship validates her transformative work in her community.

“Union and its donors invested in me. I wouldn’t have received the scholarship if they didn’t think I could change the world.”

You too can change world by supporting the next generation of students fulfill their educational dreams. Please donate today to the Changing the Faces of Education – Pay it 1964WARD campaign.