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First Fellows in anthropology and in kinesiology and recreation launch careers

Montesdeoca giving speech

Stevenson Center students have different service experiences, but all are committed to improving the lives of others.

The Stevenson Center‘s interdisciplinary graduate programs have yielded qualified professional candidates in a variety of roles. After one intense year on campus taking courses, Fellows complete an 11-month practicum designed to apply theoretical concepts to the field. The first Fellows in anthropology and in kinesiology and recreation are helping communities as they launch their careers.

Peace Corps Fellow Lauren Troxtel 

After receiving a bachelor’s in public health education, health promotion and a minor in nutrition from Central Michigan University, Lauren Troxtel served in Peace Corps for two years. As a community health volunteer in Ethiopia, Troxtel educated her community on HIV/AIDS, sanitation, and malaria. She also contributed to different projects and youth camps designed to develop positive life skills.

Troxtel engaging with students in Ethiopia

Troxtel served in Ethiopia as a community health volunteer.

As a Peace Corps Fellow, Troxtel continued her education with the Stevenson Center and earned a master’s degree in kinesiology and recreation. For her professional practice, she worked with the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee. As resource accessibility was her primary focus, she matched people to necessary health resources in the community.

Currently, Troxtel draws on her interdisciplinary education as a Nutrition Program Consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Public Health.

“I am lucky to be part of a team that believes in the importance of child nutrition and education, so we do our best to work with schools to provide healthy meals to youth throughout the state of Wisconsin,” said Troxtel.

Troxtel manages grant funding and goes to different schools state-wide in order to build capacity and to ensure that students’ nutritional needs are being met.

Applied Community and Economic Development Fellow Cecilia Montesdeoca 

Cecilia Montesdeoca received a bachelor’s in anthropology and community health education from Illinois State University. She then served as a public health emergency planning and response member for the Illinois Public Health Association, an AmeriCorps position. Montesdeoca continued to serve with AmeriCorps, as a team leader instructing 11 young adults in service learning opportunities.

Montesdeoca with a "Shut Down the Pipeline" sign

Montesdeoca’s internship with the Dakota Resource Council engaged her personal and professional interests.

Montesdeoca earned a master’s in anthropology through the Stevenson Center and was placed with the Dakota Resource Council for her professional practice, during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. She concentrated on the effect oil and gas extraction had on communities.

“My capstone project, a member feedback initiative, led me to identify opportunities to increase membership engagement by focusing on organizational processes,” said Montesdeoca.

She was subsequently hired on by the Dakota Resource Council as a Training and Member Engagement Coordinator. Cecilia recently returned to Illinois State for a full-time role as a Diversity Advocacy Specialist.

Applied Community and Economic Development Fellow John Thornburg 

John Thornburg received a bachelor’s in parks and recreation management from Ohio State University and obtained a master’s in sports pedagogy from Baylor University. He served with AmeriCorps twice, first as a mentor to elementary school children in Texas and later as part of the St. Louis Emergency Response Team.

John Thornburg headshot

Thornburg is currently the Grants Management Analyst for the ECIAAA.

“I really wanted to continue working in a capacity where I was serving those in need,” Thornburg said. “The ACED Fellows program just offered so many great benefits: a cross-disciplinary classroom experience with an emphasis on community development, a cohort of like-minded students, a practical hands-on 11 month internship with an organization dedicated to community development, and an assistantship built into the program to relieve the financial stress that is often involved with school.”

Thornburg earned a master’s in kinesiology and recreation from the Stevenson Center and completed his 11-month professional practice at the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging. He stayed on at the organization as the Grants Management Analyst, helping to connect the senior population in Bloomington-Normal with crucial services.

Sarah Aten was the Stevenson Center’s 2017-18 public relations intern.

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