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Illinois State’s Stevenson Center Offers Financial Support Worth Up to $58,000 For AmeriCorps Alums

August 26, 2014

Today’s post is from our August 2014 Career Newsletter sponsor, Illinois State University’s Stevenson Center. For questions about the Center’s programs, visit this website, and for  financial aid details, explore more here.

Illinois State University’s Stevenson Center offers AmeriCorps Alums a unique graduate program and an unrivaled value. AmeriCorps Alums who enroll in our Applied Community and Economic Development (ACED) Fellows Program receive a 100% tuition waiver for all courses AND a paid graduate assistantship! In your second year, paid professional practice provides you with invaluable field experience and networking opportunities.  The full financial package is worth up to $58,000.

The transition from AmeriCorps to the Stevenson Center ACED Fellows program proved seamless for Alum Niko Valaris who earned his MS in applied economics. Niko shares:

Niko Valaris headshot“The Stevenson Center at Illinois State University was the best step I could have taken after completing my terms with AmeriCorps. Serving in the National Civilian Community Corps showed me first-hand how natural disasters can disrupt people’s lives and put them in danger of living in poverty. I also witnessed how various communities deal with adversity and attempt to become more inclusive and humane. The courses and work in the ACED program gave me a theoretical understanding of concepts such as poverty, income inequality, and community that framed my experiences in the field in a whole new way. I was then able to put into practice my heightened understanding of community-building and development during my 11-month professional practice with a municipal government. I felt confident and well-equipped to grapple with the city’s social issues and have a positive impact. Lastly, it would be remiss of me if I did not mention how fantastic the administrators and professors at the Stevenson Center are. Making such strong relationships with the faculty at ISU was an unexpected but fortuitous turn of events that I continue to benefit from. I can’t say enough how much the program has done for me, and how lucky I was to be a part of it.”

The Stevenson Center’s ACED sequence is interdisciplinary, relevant, and challenging.  Fellows jumpstart their professional development through:

  • A truly integrated classroom. Our 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 each term. ACED Fellows spend one intensive year on campus, followed by placement in an 11-month field internship.
  • Personalized support.  Illinois State has the resources of a large university with a small-school feel. The Stevenson Center is small by design, ensuring individual attention and interactive seminars with faculty.

Becoming an ACED Fellow with the Stevenson Center not only builds your professional resume, it also strengthens you personally. Nichole Brants, who pursued an MS in sociology, reflects on how she continued the personal and professional growth she began in AmeriCorps as an ACED Fellow.

NicholeBrants Spring2013 (2).jpg“AmeriCorps provides a great opportunity for people to grow as individuals and build character.  I have been similarly impressed by the Stevenson Center Fellows program. The most valuable was probably the class on project design and management, which required a group project to study low-income residents and their food needs. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about the community and to work with a diverse group.  I was amazed at what a positive reputation the Stevenson Center has around the community due to the professional practice placements. I wouldn’t change anything about the support provided by Stevenson Center to students in internships.  This position afforded me the opportunity to work doing more indirect service, so it opened my eyes to the possibility of working in that type agency in the future.  Being a Stevenson Center Fellow definitely helped set me apart in my job search.”

In addition to personal and professional growth, the Stevenson Center offers comprehensive educational opportunities. Fellows earn master’s degrees in one of three disciplines:  applied economics, political science, or sociology.  Three new options are in development:  kinesiology and recreation, hydrogeology, and anthropology. Within each degree program, the ACED sequence covers topics such as community project design and management, grant writing, and economic development tools. Each student also pursues a personal research agenda in areas like sustainable development, food systems, public health, and housing.

Fellows also tackle a group community project every year. In 2013, Stevenson Center students contributed to a comprehensive assessment that is guiding community-wide plans in 2014 and beyond.  In 2012, students’ research on local food insecurity shaped decisions about the future of a local cooperative grocery.  In 2011, students completed a recycling survey that resulted in municipal curbside service.  Our Fellows learn firsthand about applied research and community change.

Boban Head Shot.pngStevenson Center students and alumni take service as seriously as you do. For her professional practice with Redwood Children’s Services in California, Jamie Boban developed youth programs, monitored projects, and wrote grant proposals.  She is now a Grants Manager at Erie Neighborhood House in Chicago.  Jamie earned her MS in political science and credits AmeriCorps and the ACED Fellows program as primary influences on her career success.

“My year as an AmeriCorps VISTA has had a lasting, positive impact on my life.  Through my service, I fostered a passion for community development and collaboration.  I was able to get hands-on professional nonprofit experience that I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise.  I was trusted with project management and capacity-building tasks that have provided the experience, coupled with my education, to make me a marketable nonprofit professional.  What I gave in time through my AmeriCorps experience I gained tenfold through knowledge.  As a VISTA alum, the Stevenson Center was a perfect fit for my continued education.  The interdisciplinary approach allowed me to expand my perspective on community development and enhance my skills. The service-oriented focus of both AmeriCorps and the Stevenson Center has had a strong influence on my career track today.”

If you’re searching for financial support, paid professional practice, and an interdisciplinary program that builds on your AmeriCorps experience, start your application today!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2014 2:24 pm

    This is fantastic!

  2. September 7, 2014 2:52 pm

    wow was so happy 2 read this~

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