Q: What led you to IU as an undergraduate student, and how did you decide to apply for the MPA program?
A: I went to high school in Pennsylvania and found out about IU through a friend who lived here in Bloomington. When it was time to apply for colleges, IU was clearly the best choice. They made me feel like I was a part of the community before I even enrolled, and I was so impressed by the academics and culture here. During my junior year at the Media School, I began my first internship with Beacon, Inc. (then Shalom Community Center) as a communications intern. This is how social services nonprofits came to have a special place in my heart. I continued to intern in nonprofit communications, in addition to trying out the public sector for one year, and loved being part of the incredible missions of these organizations.
I completed my bachelor’s degree in May 2020, when the world was hectic and uncertain. Most of my job applications were put on hold or closed without filling. While I was applying for jobs, I also was considering furthering my education to work specifically in the nonprofit sector in human or social services. I began the IUB Master of Social Work program because I had interacted with so many amazing social workers throughout my internships. While this ultimately was not the right degree for me, I discovered the O’Neill MPA program with a concentration in nonprofit management. I just so happened to already be at the institution with one of the best MPA programs in the country. Now that I’m more than halfway through the program, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Q: What do you wish people knew about United Way of Monroe County and IUB’s relationship with the organization?
A: First, I wish that more employees and students were aware of this incredible relationship. United Way of Monroe County is the only nonprofit that IUB supports by allowing employees to make donations through payroll deduction, and there are many volunteer opportunities throughout the year for both employees and students. United Way provides and supports life-changing services that help people in need and make our community stronger—emergency shelter, nutritional meals, affordable childcare, and much more. United Way is one organization that helps make Bloomington and IUB the wonderful community we know and love.
Second, I wish more IUB employees knew how much of an impact we could make collectively, even if we can only give a little individually. In 2021, around 1,100 employees raised more than $692,000 for United Way, making up 64% of their total community fundraising campaign. That has such an incredible impact, which will help make a difference in so many lives! But imagine the impact we could make if more of IUB’s 10,000+ employees donated even $5. Gifts of any size can help make a huge difference, especially when we harness the collective power of such a large and caring group of employees. You can donate easily through payroll deduction by making a pledge online at www.unitedway.indiana.edu/how-give.
Q: Why is volunteerism important to you, and how do you think it can enhance people’s lives?
A: Communities are stronger when people give back. I feel like I have a responsibility to do what I can to help make my community a better place, whether that is through my work, donations, volunteering, or in other ways. I particularly like volunteering because you can see the impact you make on the organization and the people it serves—and personally, I think its fun! You get to meet other people in your community and know more about the place you call home.
Q: What has been the highlight of your IU experience so far? What will you miss most after graduation?
A: This is a very hard question because there have been so many incredible experiences. But I have to say just being a part of the O’Neill MPA program. I have learned so much and still have so much more opportunity to learn before I finish. The faculty, curriculum, student services, and other students are all so incredible. I feel so lucky to be a part of the O’Neill community. Once I graduate, I’m just going to miss spending every day at IU: walking on the beautiful campus, spending my day with amazing coworkers and student peers, and attending all the fun community and cultural events.
Q: Tell us about your pets, please!
A: I’ll start with the most normal! I have an orange cat named Chester. He likes basking in the sun and playing with his mice toys. And I have two snakes: a ball python named Venus and a corn snake named Luna. They each live in their own tank, and while I do love to get them out to hold them every now and then, they mostly enjoy spending time by themselves in their tanks.