Justine Hastings ’21 has made a name for herself in the Syracuse University community as an educator, leader, and scholar – and she still has her capstone year ahead of her. Having been elected SA (Student Association) president in April, and announced a 2020-21 Remembrance Scholar in May, Hastings is strengthening her force behind the issues that she cares about.
A secondary English education and English and textual studies dual major, she is also a volunteer academic coach at the Center for Learning and Student Success. In addition to being an Our Time Has Come Scholar, a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, and a student in the Renée Crown University Honors Program, Hastings earned a grant from the Syracuse University Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (SOURCE) to conduct a filmmaking fellowship program for Syracuse middle school students at the North Side Learning Center. Her research will assess if the filmmaking program has a substantial literacy impact among low-performing students.
Hastings enjoys making fictional narrative films in her free time, a skill she developed while working in community television after she graduated high school in Brooklyn, NY. She also worked as a summer filmmaking mentor at Writopia Lab, a NYC not-for-profit that offers creative writing workshops to youth ages 6-18.
In summer 2019, Hastings worked as an education intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, learning about the practice of teaching and informal learning in a museum setting.
In her time at SU, Hastings was also a peer facilitator of the Syracuse Reads Program/SEM 100, a five-week seminar that engages new students in shared reflection and discussion about themes of identity, belonging, diversity, inclusion and health and wellness. She has also served as an InclusiveU residential mentor and a facilitator for the LGBT Resource Center’s Fusion program, which brings LGBT+ students of color together for mutual support.
Hastings was recognized with an Unsung Hero award at the 35th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in January 2020.
She has been featured in news stories produced by Syracuse.com, Syracuse University News, Syracuse University in Washington DC, the Daily Orange, Blackstone LaunchPad.
She shared her thoughts about how she stays focused, balanced, and organized with her many duties that she perform so well.
How do you find balance? How do you make time for your commitments, academics, and interests?
It definitely helps that all of my commitments are responsibilities I am extremely passionate about. They are all centered around helping others and that gives me a strong sense of joy, meaning and fulfillment. Nonetheless, balance is extremely important and I make time for academics, my interests, and self care by staying organized and utilizing my daily planner.
What does self care look like to you?
Self care looks like a variety of things. Physically, I shower, brush my teeth, exercise, and eat healthy daily. However, mental health is just as important as physical health. That said, I often meditate- sometimes silently or using a guided meditation video. I like to draw, even though I am not artistically talented in that way. I often center my self care around being a good friend to myself. Whenever I am feeling down or find myself in a rut I ask myself, “What would a good friend say to you?” and try to follow that advice. I also make time for my family and friends to just hang out and destress.
Who are your mentors? What are your stabilizers? What do you do and who do you turn to when you are feeling overwhelmed?
I have plenty of mentors that I found at Syracuse University, including but not limited to Kelly Chandler-Olcott, Kate Hanson, Crystal Bartolovich, Roger Hallas, Stephanie Shirilan and Jolynn Parker. Kelly Chandler-Olcott is my faculty mentor, English Education professor and my research mentor. Kate Hanson is my direct supervisor at the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (SOURCE) where she serves as the Director. Stephanie Shirilan and Crystal Bartolovich were my brilliant, kind, and thoughtful English professors and Roger Hallas was my dedicated faculty mentor for my English Distinction project. Jolynn Parker is the director of the Center of Fellowship and Student Advising and she is extremely wonderful and devoted to helping students succeed. All of these mentors are genuinely amazing people who go above and beyond to support my fellow students and I.
When I am feeling overwhelmed, I remind myself of my purpose, why I do the work that I do, and the privileges that I have to even be able to do the work I do. I often go for walks to get myself out my head and look at the bigger picture of things. I also like to listen to music, specifically reggae. Again, I meditate – sometimes silently or using a guided meditation video. I also turn to my friends and family when I am feeling overwhelmed and they are a great source of love and joy.
In these unusual times, how are you going to approach this next academic year?
Life will always include plenty of adversities and this next academic year is definitely no exception. That said, I am going to approach next year, and life generally, by taking responsibility for my life and positions and fully face all challenges presented to me. Below is one of my favorites quotes when it comes to staying resilient and facing life’s challenges:
“Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths…Dig deeply. You possess strengths you might not realize you have. Find the right one. Use it.” – Epictetus, The Art of Living