Westmont Magazine At Home in San Francisco
Westmont’s San Francisco-based Urban Program turned 30 years old this fall and celebrated with a new home in the city. The college has purchased a bed-and-breakfast inn near Golden Gate Park to house the program’s 24 to 30 students each semester.
Celebrations of the program’s anniversary are scheduled Feb. 2 in San Francisco and Feb. 6 at Westmont.
The Urban Program is an intensive interdisciplinary experience that combines academic work with internships in different city organizations. Students live together in a large house (previously at 3016 Jackson Street, near the Presidio in Pacific Heights), attend class and participate in a wide variety of internships for academic credit.
“The Urban Program opened up worlds for me that I never knew existed,” said one program participant. “I have a much deeper awareness of those who are different from me, and their need for a voice. At the same time, I have come to a greater understanding of myself, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and what I really care about.”
Three full-time faculty teach classes and oversee internships, which range from working with social service agencies, like San Francisco General Hospital, to major corporations, like The Pacific Stock Exchange and KCBS Television.
The new Urban House is at Fell and Lyon streets, near Golden Gate Park, and is larger than the Jackson Street facility, which the college had leased since 1978. The new building, purchased for approximately $2.1 million, has rooms for students, classroom space, offices for faculty plus a large gathering space.
“We’re very excited about the new facility and the opportunities it provides to do year-round programming, to connect more closely with the community in which we’re located, and to provide a space for community to develop,” said Steven Schultz, director of the Urban Program.
Students who participate in the Urban Program universally report that their lives are changed by the experience.
“I entered my internship as a (hospital) chaplain with a combination of fear and excitement,” one participant said. “I never imagined how hard it would be, or how much I would learn. Believe it or not, it has given me even more motivation for my studies back on the campus. The responsibility I was given also helped me to discover that I really had something to offer to the world. It gave me a clear vision for my future work that I never expected to have.”