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Stevenson Center welcomes new ACED Fellows

Jack White in field wearing AmeriCorps gear

Incoming ACED Fellow in anthropology Jack White.

The Stevenson Center will soon welcome a new class of graduate students pursuing degrees in applied economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, or kinesiology and recreation with a sequence in applied community and economic development (ACED). ACED Fellows have served with AmeriCorps or other public sector organizations. While Fellows have a deep commitment to service, each student is unique.

Tessa Lance received her bachelor’s in environmental science from Humboldt State University in 2017. For the last two years, Lance has served as an AmeriCorps member in Colorado. She worked in a rural town as a garden educator for an organization that operated a homeless shelter and offered other social services. She helped manage community and school gardens in the area, and she taught nutrition and gardening classes. Lance was then a family navigator in a permanent supportive housing program, where she offered critical case management to formerly homeless families. Finally, Lance served as a youth development specialist at a Boys and Girls Club.

Incoming ACED Fellow in political science Tessa Lance.

“I’ve always felt called to serve my community, locally and globally, and I wanted to delve into work that would entangle me with the most pressing issues folks are dealing with in this country,” she said.

At Illinois State, Lance will be studying political science and ACED through the Stevenson Center. She feels that only so much progress can be made in dealing with certain issues due to larger political or societal constraints. She is excited to learn more about the systems, policies, and players involved in the issues she cares about and to work toward righting injustices.

“Everything comes back to the systems in place and the way policies and programs manifest in daily life,” Lance said.

Lance hopes to deepen her understanding of political systems and identify paths inside and outside institutions to create greater equity to access power and upward mobility.

“I ultimately chose the Stevenson Center because of its focus on community development and the opportunity to experience graduate school through an interdisciplinary lens,” she said.

Her first-year graduate assistantship will be as a research and teaching assistant in the Department of Politics and Government. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running, gardening, snowboarding, playing the piano, and listening to live music.

ACED Fellow Jack White graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.A. in history and an anthropology minor in 2017. In July, he completed his service as an assistant team leader with the National Civilian Community Corps, an AmeriCorps program. His last project focused on healthy futures with the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture in Missouri. Over the year, his team worked on projects across the southwest region. In Texas, they assisted Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio with building affordable houses and the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank with ending food insecurity.

White will be studying anthropology and ACED through the Stevenson Center.

“Anthropology has been an interest of mine since early in my undergrad. I think that the subject can be used in a multitude of ways to have an impact on the lives of others while catering towards other cultures and societies,” he said.

White spent June 2017 in Huanchaco, Peru, as part of an ethnographic field school working with a group of internally displaced peoples recovering from devastating flooding. In addition to researching medicinal plant knowledge, White’s group investigated the best ways to allocate funds to the community.

“That experience was the beginning of me wanting to go into a field like community and economic development,” he said.

White hopes to gain a quality education and professional experience in the field of community and economic development. His first-year graduate assistantship will be with the Central Illinois Area Health Education Center.

“The mix of in-class learning with the applied work of the [second-year] internship is really appealing,” he said.

In his free time, White enjoys listening to music and podcasts, playing video games, working out, reading, and spending time with good people.

The Stevenson Center offers a similar program for those who have served with the Peace Corps, as well as a Peace Corps Prep program for undergraduate students.

Megan Birk is the Stevenson Center’s public relations intern.