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Stevenson Center Alumni Day Guest Phillip Dawson

Stevenson Center staff and alumni day guest pose after presentation session for students. From left to right: Beverly Beyer, Frank Beck, Phillip Dawson, Dawn DuBois, and Katie Raynor.

The Stevenson Center welcomed Peace Corps Fellow in political science Phillip Dawson for alumni day during Homecoming. Dawson attended the alumni day luncheon and presented his experiences to current students afterward.

“The reason I went to school was to get a job just like this. It took some time of applying, waiting, finding the right place, and it all finally worked out.”

Every Homecoming week creates a palpable festiveness in the air. Department offices are decorated, the Quad is freshly chalked, and events are held each day leading up to the parade and football game. While many activities are geared toward current students, alumni come back each year to reminisce about their time on campus. This year the Stevenson Center had the pleasure of hosting Phillip Dawson.

Prior to studying at Illinois State, Dawson served as a community and economic development Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde. “I went to trade school and I was a contractor for a short time,” he said. “I was brought on as a vocational education volunteer because of my construction background.”

Dawson developed, directed, and managed projects, taught civil construction, and received grants for infrastructure improvement projects, women’s empowerment, and AIDS awareness programs.

Returning to the States, Dawson chose Illinois State University for the Peace Corps Fellows graduate program offered through the Stevenson Center. As a graduate assistant with the American Democracy Project on campus, he contributed to the development of the civic engagement and responsibility minor. Phillip served his professional practice with the Fremont Area Community Foundation in Newaygo County, Michigan. Among other projects, he reviewed and managed foundation grants in excess of $1 million. His thesis research focused on the relationship between parents’ social capital and child-based activities in a public housing program.


Phillip Dawson volunteering at a community event in 2012.

After years of volunteering and working, all the effort paid off. Dawson now works as a community development specialist for USDA Rural Development in Atoka, Oklahoma. “It’s exactly what I wanted to do,” he said. “The reason I went to school was to get a job just like this. It took some time of applying, waiting, finding the right place, and it all finally worked out.”

Dawson provided valuable tips and answered Stevenson Center students’ questions about job opportunities and responsibilities. He also expressed his appreciation for the invitation to participate in alumni day festivities. “I always feel like I’m coming home… I also think as an alum that it is our responsibility to keep engaged because we want this program to be successful,” he said. “It’s a blessing that I get to do this.”

Learn more about talented students and alumni like Phillip at the Stevenson Center!