Applied Community and Economic Development (ACED) Fellow in applied economics Bryan Titzler is learning that graduate study at the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development is demanding and rewarding. During Peace Corps Week and AmeriCorps Week, the Stevenson Center celebrates the commitment of students like Titzler.
“As a student I have learned that, although there are plenty of challenges in graduate school, there is no challenge too great to overcome,” said Bryan, an experienced Eagle Scout. “The first semester of graduate school can be difficult because everything is new and you don’t really know what to expect. This is also what makes it incredibly exciting though.”
Titzler credits the well-known physicist and humanist Albert Einstein as having a major impact on his decision to pursue a master’s degree in an area of expertise where he can combine his knowledge of a diverse range of topics and, more importantly, apply these skills to make a very real impact on communities in need.
“He (Einstein) was not only an amazing physicist who greatly advanced human knowledge, but also a philosopher and dreamer who wrote on a variety of non-scientific topics as well,” Titzler said. “He was able to capture the public imagination and relate in a way that many other scientists were, and are still, unable to.”
As a double major in economics and sustainability at the University of Arizona, Titzler earned the Honor Student of the Year Award for significant contributions in the field of sustainability. Titzler was then elected to the position of treasurer in the nation’s first Honor Society for Sustainability. In 2013, he earned a full scholarship to conduct research abroad in Spain and Morocco.
Titzler’s passion for sustainability fueled his decision to start the Global Sustainability Studies Initiative, an organization promoting the study of sustainability in a global context where students can help develop the skills to solve global problems.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, Titzler served as an AmeriCorps member with Public Allies as a housing liaison for Central Arizona Shelter Services in Phoenix. In this capacity, Titzler helped find housing placements for over 50 individuals.
Moved by this experience, Titzler hopes to pursue a career as an economic development professional.
“I see myself working to influence public policy,” Titzler said. “Either domestically or abroad, in the hopes that I will have the largest possible impact I can on the world.”
Seeking preparation for that career, Bryan came to Illinois State for rigorous graduate study.
“I decided to pursue a graduate degree in economics with the Stevenson Center because I was amazed by the program from the moment I learned about it. I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in development economics, so the concentration in applied community and economic development was exactly what I was looking for,” Titzler said. “Also, the opportunity to make a difference through an applied professional practice placement in a real community setting was huge for me. I knew the unique structure of the Stevenson Center program would best prepare me to accomplish my goals.”
“The faculty and staff at the Stevenson Center are definitely amazing. They are the most welcoming group of individuals you will ever meet, and you instantly feel like a member of the Stevenson Center family from the day you arrive,” Titzler observed about faculty members such as the professor and director of the economics graduate program, Hassan Mohammadi. “Even before I arrived on campus I was amazed at how receptive the staff was to all of my questions throughout the application process.”
Even though his first year as a graduate student is moving quickly, Titzler remains positive about the prize that awaits him in 2017—graduation.
“Today I am just as excited and passionate about this incredible opportunity as the day I started,” Titzler said. “I make sure never to lose sight of my end goal of becoming a development professional and changing the world.”
Learn more about the Stevenson Center and its inspired (and inspiring) students like Bryan Titzler!
Brad Johnson is a Stevenson Center public relations intern.