Matt is a senior Environmental Studies major with a concentration in Policy. He is a defensive back on the football team, philanthropy chair for Sigma Chi, and a proud employee at the Dean of Student's Office. Matt's work this summer has consisted of working with Cameron Blossom at the West Bloomington Revitalization Project and the Economic Development Council on an initiative to collect data from business owners on the West side of Bloomington to determine the business climate on the West side and to develop a program to promote the the West side and break down the negative stigma that currently hinders businesses owners on that side of town.
Matt's personal project brought him to the other side of town where the Ecology Action Center and Uptown Partners (an affiliate of the Town of Normal) are located. There he surveyed Uptown business owners on East Beaufort and North Street in an effort to improve recycling in Uptown Normal.
Here's Matt on his ARC summer - "The experiences that I have had this summer have helped me grow and develop tremendously and I am so thankful for Deborah Halperin and the avenue she provided me with to become involved in the Action Research Center."
Cameron is a senior majoring in Business-Marketing and Sociology from Flanagan, IL. This summer, Cameron worked in the Human Resources-Employment Activities department at State Farm and at the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (WBRP). At the WBRP, he worked to develop relationships with Westside businesses by interviewing business owners to discover their needs and the positive aspects of the culturally diverse Westside of Bloomington. He developed a promotional project entitled Westside Wednesdays that is a photographic exhibit of all the businesses he worked with. Cameron also delivered a presentation of his findings to those who are involved in the economic revitalization of the Westside, including a number of business owners and city officials. At State Farm, Cameron worked on various events across the community and organized an alumni event at State Farm as well as a renter's insurance workshop.
Celeste is a senior majoring in Political Science and Psychology from Skokie, Illinois. This summer, Celeste worked in the Corporate Law Department at State Farm and interned with Mid Central Community Action. At State Farm, she investigated legal issues and public policies that have an impact on State Farm business. Her major completed projects include a report on climate change and insurance companies & PAC involvement and compliance to State Farm policy. At Mid Central, Celeste assisted in the coordination of NeighborWorks Week, a week dedicated to the revitalization of homes in the community. Her major project was a Community Needs Assessment that gauged the current needs of Mid Central's target area. She will be continuing to work with mid central in the fall with their pilot project, Going Green, sponsored by NeighborWorks.
Here is Celeste on her summer - "The most valuable lesson I've learned this summer is that long lasting solutions to community needs don't come from what a single intern, director, agency, or institution 'think are best'. Real progress involves a collaborative spirit that engages everyone from the single mom of three to the successful business owner. I'm grateful for the opportunity ARC has given me to witness and become a part of an engaged citizenry."
Katie is a IWU senior majoring in Political Science from Park Ridge, Illinois. This summer, Katie was part of the CPP, interning in State Farm's Learning and Development Department and for the YWCA of McLean County. Katie interned directly for the CEO of the YWCA and participated in their Racial Justice Council. She developed a project on early childhood education practices and also conducted interviews with YW Board Members to talk about the future of the organization. At State Farm, Katie worked in the Learning Operations subset of the Learning and Development Department, helping out on several projects in the recently-restructured department.
Here is Katie on her ARC experience - "Until this summer I didn't really feel like a part of the Bloomington-Normal community, and I've lived here three years. I barely knew the other interns and now I feel like I could turn to them with any problem and it would be solved. I think that this summer has served to make all of us so much more self-efficacious and willing to confront issues which need changing, because we understand how best to go about tackling them."
Lizzie is a junior Business-Marketing major from Oak Lawn, IL. This summer, she worked at State Farm in the Creative Services department as well as at the Western Avenue Community Center. She served as a Production Assistant in the Creative Services department and worked on modernizing the internal Talent Database, which is used for finding talent within the organization that can be used for productions. In the community, Lizzie worked with Western Avenue to find funding sources for the LINC Basketball Facilities by establishing new partnerships with community leaders to create better opportunities for participants.
Here is Lizzie on her ARC experience - "I'm blown away by the learning associated with the ARC experience. I learned more about Bloomington-Normal in two weeks than two years living here. It has been a life changing experience that has truly developed and driven my interests that I'll credit this program to. You're never to old to learn, and you're never too young to lead!"
Mark is a IWU junior majoring in Economics from Arlington Heights, Illinois. This summer, Mark was part of the CPP, interning in State Farm's Property and Casualty Underwriting Department and for United Way. At his community partner, Mark worked on the implementation of a financial opportunity center, a program where employment training, financial education, coaching and screening for public benefit eligibility are bundled together. He enjoyed working with other organizations and seeing their viewpoints through the project. At State Farm, Mark worked to make sure the business side of the Property and Casualty Underwriting Department runs smoothly. He enjoyed seeing the inside view of a big company, like State Farm.
Zoe is a IWU senior majoring in Political Science from DuQuoin, Illinois. This summer, Zoe worked directly for the Action Research Center on many different campus and community projects. Her primary project was the development and research for the Veggie Oasis, a mobile farmer's market that will provide fresh produce to Bloomington residents. Currently, Bloomington's west side is a USDA food desert, meaning residents do not have nearby access to grocery stores or supermarkets selling fresh fruits and vegetables. With her work this summer, Zoe laid the foundation for the Veggie Oasis, which should be fully operational by next summer.
Here is Zoe on her ARC experience - "ARC has provided me with the tools, connections, and confidence to enter the Bloomington-Normal community like never before. Until this summer, I felt I was merely a student living at Illinois Wesleyan; Now, I am a community member engaged in life in our city. Working with ARC has given me the ability to put in motion projects to change lives in Bloomington-Normal, as well as experience to take with me to my future home."
Dani is a senior majoring in Hispanic Studies and Sociology from Darien, IL. As a summer intern in the CPP program, she worked in the Multicultural Business Development Group at State Farm and the Red Cross. At State Farm, Dani focused on cultural acumen training, specifically working to improve current videos and training materials associated with the Hispanic market. At the Red Cross, Dani utilized her Spanish skills by coordinating the 2nd bilingual blood drive as well as hosting a weekly "youth series" for a nearby summer camp group.
Here is Dani on her ARC experience - "I've developed a sincere appreciation for the people and culture of State Farm, as well as an enthusiasm for the Red Cross and everything they do for this community, locally and internationally. ARC is truly providing the full-circle experience."
Matt is a junior Accounting major from Downers Grove, IL. At State Farm, Matt worked in the Financial Operations and Compliance Department, specifically the Financial Share Services Department. Matt's mentor at State Farm was the Assistant V.P of Finance and he worked on numerous projects that included creating controls in Microsoft Excel that provide metrics for Unclaimed Property and Tax Refunds, creating job aide checklists, and improving the Fundamentals of Accounting course offered to State Farm employees. At Habitat for Humanity, Matt created a donor database, worked on strengthening the IWU Habitat for Humanity chapter, and planned a Cow Pie Bingo fundraiser. Matt also researched tool libraries across the nation and worked on initial funding aspects to bring a new tool library to Bloomington-Normal as a cost effective way to provide a tool lending service for homeowners.
Here is Matt on his ARC summer - "Amazing. ARC has challenged me to push beyond my pre-conceived limitations and allowed me to become an active particpant in my community. ARC has helped me realize that you must create positive change in your community."
Danny Kenny is a senior from St. Louis, MO majoring in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies. He is an alum of the CPP program and is bringing his skills back to ARC this summer. Danny worked on the upkeep of the Peace Garden, devoting much time towards pruning, weeding, watering, and harvesting of the plants. Additionally, Danny helped the Action Research Center develop a grand strategic plan through his research on the practices of similar institutions and a literature review of university-community engagement.
Here is Danny on his ARC experience – "There's nothing quite like it. I have been so impressed by this year's interns as they have taken full advantage of their summer. The bar was set high and they have exceeded it with flying colors. I am incredibly proud of all of them to see them take on the issues of their communities for a long time to come" Also, "Talk to Deborah Halperin. Just do it."
Maggie Maddox is a senior majoring in Business Administration/Marketing. This summer, she worked on employee development projects at State Farm as well as at the YMCA. At State Farm, Maggie assisted with the implementation, monitoring, and assessment of an employee opinion survey. She also created a presentation on integrity as part of a series on employee engagement for managers and worked on the organization of Bank courses that State Farm provides. At the YMCA, Maggie actively worked on various marketing projects in addition to assisting the front desk staff. Responsibilities included the creation of a comment card to monitor member feedback, various surveys for the organization, and the organization of the National Trails Day event.
Zach Meyer is a junior Accounting major from Minonk, IL. This summer, Zach worked in the Financial Operations and Compliance department at State Farm and the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal. At State Farm, Zach worked on projects within the Financial Shared Services sector, specifically looking at Unmatched Commodities and Agent Defalcations and successfully created flowcharts and operation guides through data analysis. At the Boys & Girls Club, Zach worked on a Donor Database project, where he applied many of the skills he acquired through data work at State Farm. Zach also helped plan and carry out their annual Golf Outing, created a stewardship plan for the Club, and designed a year-end brochure that can be sent to the Club's donors.
Zach on his experience at the Boys & Girls Club – "The daily interaction with youth should not be overlooked and truly makes every day at the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal a rewarding experience."
Veronica Watson is a junior International Studies major from South Elgin, IL. At State Farm, she worked in the Multicultural Business Development Group. Her primary project at State Farm was the analysis of cultural competence training for associates and agents, in addition to work on the State Farm Steer Clear website for young drivers. In the community, Veronica interned at Marcfirst, a non-profit that provides services for adults and young children with developmental disabilities. Her main project included the creation of a Boy Scout Venture Crew for marcfirst's high school students. The curriculum that Veronica wrote for the crew included the learning of soft skills, volunteering in the community, earning Venturing awards and attending larger Venturing activities, such as camping. Her time spent at marcfirst also included assisting the day-to-day operations of the School to Work summer program for high school students as well as various Friendsfirst sessions.
Here is Veronica on her ARC experience - "This summer I think I have learned the importance of adaptability and flexibility more than anything else. Needs change, projects evolve, but deadlines stay pretty firm, so if you are asked to do something you have no experience with or to completely reshape a month-long project, you still need to meet that deadline with the best product possible. And that ability to calmly change course whenever needed is a lot harder than I thought it was before this internship."