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Stevenson Center’s ACED Fellows Program could be your Career Jumpstart

August 29, 2017

Today’s sponsored post is from Illinois State University’s Stevenson Center. The Applied Community and Economic Development (ACED) Fellows Program includes a 100% tuition waiver for all courses and a paid graduate assistantship. After a full year on campus, Fellows complete paid professional practicum in the second year, gaining invaluable field experience and relationships. The full financial package is worth up to $61,600.

Cecilia Montesdeoca is no stranger to the roadblocks or the triumphs inherent to civic engagement. An Illinois native, Cecilia’s service has brought her from Peruvian villages where she led earthquake recovery efforts, to completing conservation projects with AmeriCorps NCCC Southwest, to the Standing Rock region of North Dakota where she supported community organizing campaigns related to safe, responsible oil and gas extraction. Clearly committed to a career in community development, Cecilia was drawn back to home for the Illinois State University’s Stevenson Center.

“After seeing how the Stevenson Center master’s programs operate, I couldn’t celiaimagine doing graduate school any other way. By being in a cohort, you’re surrounded by brilliant, experienced and ambitious students. Being able to take courses in other departments is refreshing, especially seeing how the different fields approach the same topic from various angles.”

Cecilia, an alum of the ACED Fellows Program in anthropology and named a 2017 Future Alumni Leader by Illinois State University, shares:

“The staff, faculty, curriculum, and cohort have all contributed to me having a great experience. Pursuing a master’s degree through the Stevenson Center is a fantastic opportunity for NCCC alums.  The ACED Fellows cohort is made up of like-minded, service-oriented people, which quickly becomes a powerful network for grad school and beyond.

The Stevenson Center’s ACED Fellows Program has these key qualities to jumpstart your career:

  • A truly integrated classroom. Students come together in core courses to share their full range of perspectives and backgrounds with faculty.
  • Real-world experience. Community projects are woven into coursework. ACED Fellows spend one intensive year on campus, followed by an 11-month paid field internship.
  • Personalized support. The Stevenson Center is small by design, ensuring individual attention and interactive seminars with faculty.

The Stevenson Center offers comprehensive educational opportunities. Master’s degrees are available in anthropology, applied economics, kinesiology and recreation, political science, and sociology.cohortWithin each degree program, the ACED sequence covers topics such as community project design and management, grant writing, and economic development. In and out of the classroom, each student also pursues a personal research agenda in areas like sustainable development, food systems, public health, and housing.

To learn more about the Stevenson Center, hear from two additional students and see what makes the campus a great spot to learn and live:


Derek Conley: From Peace Corps Volunteer to Economic Development Professional

Derek Conley’s introduction to service began with the Peace Corps in Panama where hederek was a Community Economic Development Volunteer. Upon his return to the U.S., Derek landed an AmeriCorps State position in data analysis.

Now a graduate of Illinois State’s Peace Corps Fellows Program with a master’s in applied economics, Derek reflects:

The Stevenson Center Program at Illinois State University took my career to the next level. Combining academic study and AmeriCorps service is a brilliant method of developing young minds.”  Derek further explains that the Stevenson Center’s interdisciplinary, applied curriculum gave him the “chance to learn how to build communities into safe places that spur business and development.”

For his internship arranged through the Stevenson Center, Derek started working with Invest Aurora, a public/private economic development partnership.   Derek expresses, “My time at Invest Aurora has given me the skills I need to enter the job market and turned into a full-time job.”

Bumni Akinnusotu: Home Away from Home & a Practical Learning Approach

Alum Bunmi Akinnusotu’s experiences at Illinois State set her on a journey in nonprofit Bumniand government management, from the YWCA and United Way in Chicago to the Environmental Protection Agency. Reflecting on her master’s in sociology, Bumni says the field experiences and the relationships stand out.

I would absolutely recommend the Stevenson Center to others.  I found the practical learning approach to be extremely helpful to my career. I gained an appreciation for how to unpack tough questions, and bring a more critical lens to research that can actually help change or influence conclusions. When I sit in meetings or when things come up, I listen differently because of what I know about how communities operate and what tools are at my disposal to address problems. Studying at ISU was demanding but it was a very supportive environment. I always enjoyed the small classroom sizes and accessibility of each professor. The Stevenson Center was a home away from home where I felt included and appreciated.

3 Reasons to Explore Bloomington-Normal

Only a train ride away from downtown Chicago and St. Louis, and within driving distance of Milwaukee and Indianapolis—Illinois State University’s campus in Normal blends the comfort of the Midwest with easy access to adventure. In fact, Normal and sister city Bloomington have received several recent media mentions:

  • In 2017, Business Insider ranked Bloomington-Normal one of the top 10 college towns in the country.
  • In 2016, Huffington Post named Bloomington one of the “11 Amazing Cities You’ve Never Thought To Live In, But Should.”
  • In 2015, the Town of Normal was ranked #3 on the list of Best Small College Towns in America by College Values Online.

If you’re searching for financial support, intensive professional practice, an interdisciplinary program that enhances your AmeriCorps experience, and a thriving city with historic roots, request more information today!

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