A Room of Their own

Just south of the University of Chicago, at the AKArama Center in Woodlawn, a dozen or so people gather in a seminar room. The room is reminiscent of those in which Nobel laureates and eager college students swap ideas, giving the UofC its reputation as a center for intellectualism. It is sparsely adorned, its tables pushed together to form a hollow square. It is a room designed for focused discussion, for digging into texts, and for exchanging ideas. But the students here are different. Their average age is thirty-nine. Most of them are women. All live at least 150% below the poverty line.

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