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Make Your Passion Your Profession

April 20, 2017

Today’s sponsored blog is written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the world’s first school dedicated solely to education and research about philanthropy. AmeriCorps Alums can earn a master’s degree on campus, online, or through an executive option that combines the two. The school will match AmeriCorps members’ Segal Education Award. They also consider your AmeriCorps experience for up to three credit hours toward our master’s degree. Learn more about your options for earning your master’s degree by studying with faculty who are the top experts in their field.

IU-Lilly-rachelRachel Ogorek lives by her belief that anyone can use a passion and his or her gifts to serve and find an area to excel.” She expresses that philosophy through her passion for philanthropy. The AmeriCorps alumna’s interest springs from her time in AmeriCorps: she worked for two years at the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver as a civic engagement coordinator for Bruce Randolph School, a role that connected her to students who were civically engaged.

“It was extremely influential in my life,” she said, adding that it taught her what it means to be part of a community.

After completing her AmeriCorps service, Ogorek headed to Indianapolis and IUPUI to pursue a dual degree from Indiana University: a master of public affairs from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and a master of arts in philanthropic studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Ogorek was challenged in new ways by the program and her position as a graduate assistant in the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning. There, she helped orchestrate a successful partnership among Indianapolis residents who wanted to start a community garden by connecting them to volunteers, organizations that provide plant seeds, and a nearby nonprofit, Seven Steeples Urban Farm. She earned a William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion, an award honoring IUPUI students who have shown an exemplary commitment to their communities.


Outside her coursework, Ogorek edited and shepherded the publication of a collection of stories. Serve Reflect Repeat includes submissions from AmeriCorps alumni and other national service program participants to help people understand AmeriCorps and the types of experiences available through such programs.

While combing through volunteers’ stories, Ogorek discovered a cohesive theme of personal change emerging from many of them: the person who started out in a national service experience was not the same person who ended it. Although the volunteers set out to help create change for the people and communities they served, they often found themselves changed by their own experiences in the program as well. Ogorek experienced this firsthand when a Denver student who did not want to participate in a day of service was nevertheless transformed by it. The student is now invested in her community, and plans to give back by teaching health in a Denver elementary school after graduating from college.

Today, Ogorek is program coordinator for the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCSP), where she works on its monthly webinar series, its Family Giving Newsletter, and other initiatives, networks, and events.

iu-lilly-garden1Ogorek says her education provided her with the additional knowledge, skills and experience to prepare her for future levels of service. “The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has helped me build on the foundation I received during my time in AmeriCorps,” she says. “While AmeriCorps solidified my goal to work in the nonprofit sector, the philanthropic studies program provided me with valuable tools to become a more knowledgeable practitioner as well as encouraged my desire to continue to be an engaged and active citizen in my community.”

And Ogorek is not alone. Check out a video of other AmeriCorps Alums at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Want to make your mark?

As a student, you come to us with a variety of causes you’re passionate about and a variety of roles in philanthropy you’re interested in pursuing. Advance your knowledge, skills and experience through our master’s degree program to find the most thoughtful paths to making a difference in what matters to you.

Make your master’s degree work for you, so you can make it a reality!


Need the flexibility of an online option?

Let us help make it manageable. The idea of starting a master’s degree might seem overwhelming, but completing classes online makes it manageable for those who work full time or don’t live in the Indianapolis area. You receive the same degree and are taught by the same faculty as the students who come to Indianapolis to learn. Our online degree ensures the same quality, but offers more flexibility.

Are you a nonprofit executive?

Did you happen into your nonprofit work without a formal education in the field? Our master’s degree allows professionals and executives already working in philanthropy to gain a deeper understanding of the field to further your career goals and your organization’s mission. You can earn a degree entirely online in as little as three years, and you have the option of coming to campus for interaction with faculty and colleagues in the summer.

Want to immerse yourself in philanthropic studies?

Our M.A. program prepares graduates for leadership roles and deeper, more thoughtful and engaged practice in the nonprofit sector. You’ll gain experience in understanding and applying cutting-edge research to grasp how to truly make the world better. Full-time students can earn our degree in two years, and have the option of serving as a community-based graduate assistant to gain experience in what they want to do upon graduation. Full-time students also are considered for additional scholarship opportunities.

Applications are being accepted. Learn more at

Alex Sventeckis contributed to the writing of this blog.

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