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A 100% Tuition Waiver to Jumpstart Your Community Development Career: Earn a Master’s at ISU’s Stevenson Center

August 17, 2016

Stevenson Center ISU logoToday’s sponsored post is written by Illinois State University’s Stevenson Center. AmeriCorps alumni come to the Stevenson Center for unique graduate programs and unrivaled value. 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 practice in the second year, gaining invaluable field experience and networking opportunities. The full financial package is worth up to $57,000.

For AmeriCorps alum Ramya Kumaran, the transition from AmeriCorps to the Stevenson Center ACED Fellows Program, and then a job in community development proved seamless. Ramya shares:

final ramya kumaran headshot“During my time with AmeriCorps, I realized my passion for serving high-need communities. The Stevenson Center’s heavy emphasis on community and economic development supports my experiences with City Year and has added deeper context to my year of service. AmeriCorps alumni are prepared to succeed at the Stevenson Center, because they have a foundation based on community development fieldwork. Because of the emphasis on both theoretical and professional practice, the Stevenson Center has prepared me to succeed professionally. In addition, the community of students and faculty that the Stevenson Center fosters has provided me the opportunity to learn and be challenged by perspectives from different disciplines and backgrounds.”

The Stevenson Center’s ACED Fellows Program has three key qualities that could jumpstart your professional development.

  • 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.

Within 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 three students and see what makes the campus a great spot to learn and live:

Caleb Griffin on the Chance to Learn & Apply Community Development Theories

caleb griffinAmeriCorps VISTA alum Caleb Griffin is pursuing a master’s degree in political science. The opportunity to stay involved in service while simultaneously gaining the academic background needed to more deeply understand social issues was a major factor in Caleb’s decision to enroll. Regarding his diverse experiences with the Stevenson Center, Caleb notes:

“I have learned not only the theoretical concepts behind community development, but have had the opportunity to personally work with local programs in the community doing this work. It has been a blast, and I highly recommend this program.”

Bumni Akinnusotu on Finding a Home Away from Home and a Practical Learning Approach

bunmiAlum Bunmi Akinnusotu’s experiences at Illinois State set her on a journey in nonprofit and government management, from the YWCA and United Way in Chicago to her current role as special assistant at 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.

Amanda Breitenstein on Learning to See the Bigger Picture from a Local Lens

amanda b stevenson aced 2016After serving with AmeriCorps NCCC and later with VISTA, alum Amanda Breitenstein chose to pursue a master’s degree in sociology at ISU’s Stevenson Center. Amanda’s decision was driven by the desire to develop her knowledge of local and international development:

“Through my experience serving with AmeriCorps, I realized the local issues I dealt with were just a small part of the big picture. This, in combination with my experience in and out of the classroom as a student in the Stevenson Center, has allowed me to develop a praxis that understands global issues and initiatives. This program was the perfect transition for me to broaden the scope of my interests and community development work.”

2 Reasons You’ll Be Happy Studying in Normal, IL

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

If you’re searching for financial support, intensive professional practice, an interdisciplinary program that enhances your AmeriCorps experience, and an up-and-coming city, request more information today!

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