The True Impact of Community Partnership


Jamie Valway, RWU Class of 2017

Major:  Architecture

From doing clerical work outside a closet turned office to managing projects and training staff, current Architecture graduate student and class of 2017 alum Jamie Valway has grown alongside the Community Partnerships Center (CPC).

When she was an RWU undergraduate student, she began as a work study student with the CPC, which connects students and faculty with local community projects.  Even in those first two years, she took advantage of every possible opportunity.

“One of my earliest personal achievements was researching and establishing a syllabus for a museum studies course here at RWU. I also did some hand drawn renders for the Colt Barn and fundamental research for various projects,” Valway says.

As the CPC expanded, they got an office, and along with gaining more physical workspace, Valway completed her first project for a partner, from start to finish. She planned and implemented a Community Engagement Celebration hosted by the Providence Public Library.  

Valway cites this as one of her fondest memories, giving her the opportunity to prove herself and build relationships with partners, while creating a masterplan for the layout of the event space.

“At one point, I was so absorbed in my work I actually went over budgeted hours during the week,” Valway says.

At the event, partners and CPC staff made speeches about the impact they had on one another, and Valway was inspired to take on more projects of her own.

When she took on the role of Project Manager, she began overseeing an effort to design an accessible Bristol Beach path for visitors with disabilities. She also completed a project for Highlander Charter School, which was eager to use the space behind their building into an outdoor classroom.

“I was appreciative of the opportunity to work with not only a very enthusiastic client but the opportunity to collaborate with my structure professor,” Valways says. She was able to use this work for her final project.

By the time she began her graduate work, the CPC had become such an important part of her RWU experience that she was not ready to say goodbye. She had also become a critical member of the team and luckily, she was able to take on a position as Acting Assistant Team Leader for Research and Design, where she got to train staff and delegate tasks for projects.

This December, Valway will be saying a bittersweet goodbye to what she calls her “CPC family,” because she has already been offered a full time job at an architecture firm.

Her work at the CPC has prepared her for the road ahead.

“I’ve already gotten exposure working with clients. I learned how to be realistic about projects. I learned how to collaborate. I’ve already gotten practice working on projects that are similar to what I’d do in a firm,” Valway says.

Though her six years at RWU, and with the CPC are coming to a close, the connections she has made and the important projects she has worked on will stay with her as she continues to thrive in her field.


At RWU, we develop Civic Scholars who believe in community-engaged work. That’s why we commit to providing every student an opportunity that empowers them to put their knowledge and skills to the test solving real-world problems and creating meaningful change with community partners. Learn more about the Civic Scholars program and how to help us reach our goal of every student participating in civic scholarship.