Jenny Panergo is a 2022-2023 Fellow at Spalding DeDecker. Learn more about Jenny below

The Importance of Reflection

a blooming good time: This day reminded me of the undeniable radiance that ignites from the hearts of Detroiters and my fellowship cohort.

The first project kickoff meeting I had at work left me feeling uncertain about the industry I was going into. Urban planning? I thought to myself, I don’t even have an urban studies degree. I felt like an imposter, uncertain about the skills and knowledge I could provide at work. I had never experienced such feelings of extreme self-doubt before; this made me lack confidence in the work I was to do for the year ahead. At this point, I hadn’t even gone through orientation, and I was muddled with negative self-talk that caused me to question myself, do I belong here?

The next day, my supervisor Cassi (an alumna of the Challenge Detroit fellowship program) and I debriefed on the kickoff meeting. I felt better after reflecting on my first professional meeting experience, yet I still had this lingering twinge of doubt in my mind: would I leave every project meeting confused? However, during orientation and my whole experience as a Fellow thus far, I learned about the importance of learning through discussion and reflection because, at the end of every Friday, we come together as a cohort and reflect on what we learned. 

I had not realized the importance of reflection until the Fellowship program, as I had only utilized self-introspection on my own time. Having time to engage in collaborative teamwork reflection has allowed me to listen, question, and think critically about the things I have learned, giving me the confidence to share my insights with others – something that I have never been able to do. With this, I realized I am more capable than what my mind had told me: I can take my skills and apply them in a different context, and I can work on projects outside of my expertise while gaining valuable skills.


 About Jenny:

My name is Jenny, and my hometown is both Brooklyn and Sterling Heights, Michigan. I went to college in Vermont (Saint Michael’s College), where I studied three subjects: philosophy, political science, and history; simultaneously, I played soccer and tennis there!

Aside from work, I am an active volunteer at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a subcommittee member/Alumni at the Point Foundation Scholarship program, and a soccer player at Ann Arbor FC. My hobbies include a wide variety of interests: soccer, tennis, skiing, sewing, crocheting, jewelry-making, writing, and video games. With some of my hobbies, I have a few “side hustles,” where I am a freelance researcher and writer. I also sell my jewelry pieces and my crochet projects.

Why should someone apply to be a Fellow?

I would encourage someone to apply to Challenge Detroit and become a Fellow because of the opportunities to meet new people and create lasting connections; learn about Detroit through residents’ points of view; participate in skill-building activities; and truly immerse into Detroit’s vibrant culture.