A Heart for Hamilton
During a semester of off-campus studies at CityLAB, Keri Williams '20 discovered her passion for working on city projects to build healthier communities.

“There is nothing better than being able to use your knowledge from lectures in real-world settings!” quipped Keri Williams. A third-year student double majoring in political science and marketing, Williams recently completed a semester-in-residence with CityLAB Hamilton, a social innovation hub that brings together student, academic and civic leaders to create a better Hamilton for all.

CityLAB is a partnership between the City of Hamilton, McMaster University, Mohawk College and Redeemer University College. Williams was accepted into the fall cohort, working alongside 25 McMaster students from September 4 to December 7, 2018. The CityLAB semester residents were a diverse group, coming from a variety of backgrounds and majors. The diversity strengthened the collaboration within the program.

The semester consisted of a 15-unit course with weekly design challenges addressing real issues within the city of Hamilton. The CityLAB residents focused on climate change mitigation for the city. Tackling this challenge from an infrastructure perspective, Williams had the opportunity to work with CityHousing to host a workshop that educated Hamiltonians and equipped them to pursue greener practices like energy use reduction and composting.

“There was something so humbling in serving others in our community and working with residents to co-develop sustainability practices for where they live so that they can help better the environment around them. It also empowered us, students,” she continued, “to know that we can help bring about change in the place that we currently call home.”

Before she started her semester with CityLAB, Williams was unsure how the residency would relate to her major and her career goals. But through the program, her interest in and connection with the city grew. She discovered her passion for sustainable housing and serving the communities of Hamilton. “I have a heart for the city of Hamilton,” she said, “and I plan to stay after I graduate and continue to contribute positively to the communities around me.”

The experience was more than a great way to put what she has learned in the classroom into real-life practice, it was also an opportunity to live out her faith outside Redeemer’s walls. “While keeping my eyes on God,” Williams reflected, “I was able to serve those around me and be the hands and feet of Jesus in this great city that we call home.”

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