Student Voices: Chelsea Gump (Brownsville, PA)

Chelsea Gump (far right) and other members of Brownville High School’s Students in Action team stand with a model of the park and performance stage planned for downtown Brownsville.  (Photo courtesy of the Herald-Standard)
Chelsea Gump (far right) and other members of Brownsville Area High School’s Students in Action team stand with a model of the park and performance stage planned for downtown Brownsville. (Photo credit:  Herald-Standard)

This interview is part of NADO’s “Youth with a Voice” case studies series, which highlights small towns and rural communities that are effectively engaging young people in planning and community development projects.  

Chelsea Gump
is a senior at Brownsville Area High School in Pennsylvania and a member of the Students in Action team that is working towards establishing a park and performance stage in downtown Brownsville, population 2,300.  She is currently deciding which university to attend after receiving numerous acceptances and scholarships and plans to pursue a career in the medical field.  After college, Chelsea has “no doubt” she will return home to Brownsville.

Click here to learn more about local Brownsville high school students involved with community development in their hometown.

What motivated you to become involved with the Students in Action Team?

My motivation arose from the simple fact of wanting more from my hometown. My grandma and mother both were a big part of my motivation, because they were the ones whose stories gave me the vision of when Brownsville was a thriving community. Students in Action was first introduced to me through my school’s student council club, but it was my family’s stories that led me to joining the SIA team. I knew that this club would be the perfect opportunity to express my feelings about Brownsville, because the club consisted of other students with the same passion as me.

How have your views of your hometown changed since you began the project?

My views have changed tremendously while in the process of this project.  At first I thought, “Why wasn’t anybody doing anything downtown?” and “Why can’t somebody just fix it up like back in the day?”, but through this project I’ve realized that there is an army of community members who have been fighting for years to beautify the community once again. My views now for my hometown are hopeful as I myself became a part of this “army” and with the support of one another I know that Brownsville will be as amazing as it once was!

What advice do you have for other students in other towns who want to get involved with improving their communities?

My advice for other students would be to express your ideas to your friends, teachers, parents, family members, and most importantly others in your community. By expressing your ideas, you are sure to find that there are others with the same goal as yourself and together you can make a difference.

Do you have plans to return home to Brownsville after college? Why or why not?

Yes! Yes!  Yes! My entire family was born and raised here, and I am very close with all of my family, so I will definitely, no doubt in my mind, be back! I do want to explore outside of my small town and discover what life has to offer me, but while doing this I also plan to continue my involvement with the project, because this project has become very dear to me. This project symbolizes a brighter future where I can one day raise my own family, and give my children the same experience my grandma and mother had as they were growing up.



The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under an award with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government.


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Joe McKinney serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Headquartered in Washington DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 500+ regional planning and development organizations.

Joe has thirty-one years of experience having served in city, county, regional, national association, and government management since 1991. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a candidate for a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

McKinney has provided congressional testimony on numerous occasions regarding the importance of regional development organizations in helping shape the nation’s economic growth. He is nationally recognized for promoting innovative solutions in areas such as planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, and aging services.

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