The Stevenson Center provides two graduate programs, the Peace Corps Fellows Program, and the Applied Community & Economic Development (ACED) Fellows Program. These programs aim to support those who have served in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or other community development organizations for an extended period. These programs allow students to obtain master’s degrees in applied economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, or kinesiology and recreation with a sequence in applied community and economic development. Each fellow is given a tuition waiver, guaranteed paid graduate assistantship, and other benefits.
The Stevenson Center is happy to welcome eight new Fellows, six of whom served in AmeriCorps. Two of the new students are Peace Corps Fellows placed in Namibia and Malawi before their time at Illinois State. All Fellows have shown dedication to public service and applied to the Stevenson Center Fellowship to continue that mission. What they learn during their time at the Stevenson Center will allow them to develop and grow the communities they work with in the future.
One Peace Corps Fellow, Lisa Bergman, earned a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science. They are now studying to get a master’s in kinesiology and recreation. They said of their decision to apply to the program, “I was looking at potentially studying sociology, anthropology, or kinesiology. But I found from my time working in corporate IT that I need time with people, and I’ve always been drawn to the Idea of being a teacher. That, paired with my love for recreation, made the School of Kinesiology the right fit.”
Bergman also touched on what they hope to gain from their program of study. This is informed by their time in Malawi while in the Peace Corps and their desire to give back to that community. “Because of Malawi’s low employment rate, I cannot move there and take a job,” they said. “When I go there, I want to build something the community wants and to create opportunities for Malawians, particularly the youth … they are the largest unemployed group. So I want to build that youth camp that focuses on their social development, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills.”
An ACED Fellow, Terragan Brouk, is currently studying to get his master’s degree in political science. He recently earned a bachelor’s degree in history and global studies. Brouk was drawn to this program through his love of public service. It was also the reason he originally joined AmeriCorps. “I was looking for something related to the outdoors, and my AmeriCorps program was conservation based with a mix of disaster response,” he said.
“I had originally thought to apply to the anthropology program, however, I found political science to vastly overlap with my undergrad and previous experiences,” he continued. “(I want to learn) how to focus my service in a more direct way so that I can go on and work for a nonprofit or in the government, such as under foreign affairs.”