Peace Corps Master’s International, 2005 Applied Economics
Ryan is the Director of Economic Development for the City of Arvada, Colorado. In this role, Ryan helps manage the day-to-day programs of the economic development department. His role also includes working with a 17-member nonprofit board that gives direction for the community’s economic development efforts. In conjunction with the board, Ryan develops measurable goals with monthly reporting. In 2015 alone, Ryan’s team will be directly responsible for the creation of more than 250 primary jobs in the community and over $400,000 in new city sales tax.
For his Peace Corps service, Ryan traveled to Ghana where he served from September 2004 until November 2006. While in the Peace Corps, his main project was working for a nonprofit called Agenda 21. The Agenda 21 mission was to link local producers of various goods to foreign markets. While in West Africa, Ryan also worked with two other nonprofits: Volta Physically Handicap Independent Group and Village Exchange Ghana. Ryan’s graduate capstone project focused on measuring physical quality of life (PQLI) for various countries in West Africa. The overall goal of his work was to identify key indicators that would increase a country’s overall PQLI.
“Thanks to the Stevenson Center’s cross-disciplinary curriculum, I was able to get to where I am today. Economic and community development, at its core, is about creating, building, and maintaining relationships. The Stevenson Center has achieved this by creating an environment where like-minded people can come together and discuss significant issues, but they do so in a way that challenges people’s contexts and perspectives.”
Peace Corps Master’s International, 2007 Political Science
Dan is the manager of the visitor and exchange programs for the nonprofit WorldDenver in Denver, Colorado. Dan coordinates the International Visitors Leadership Program, a professional exchange program operated in partnership with the U.S. Department of State. Through this program, international visitors are hand-selected by U.S. embassy staff throughout the world to participate in a three-week professional and cultural exchange program across multiple U.S. cities. International delegates meet with local professionals to exchange ideas, learn new skills, and build cross-cultural connections.
Dan’s Peace Corps service took him to Kazakhstan, where he served in a youth development organization from 2005 to 2007. While in Kazakhstan, Dan organized leadership seminars, English debate clubs, social events, and volunteer projects that engaged high school and university students throughout the city. By designing developmental activities and educational programs for children with disabilities, Dan helped student volunteers gain leadership and organizational skills while developing compassion for an underserved segment of the population.
“I can’t imagine being where I am today without the guidance and experience I gained at the Stevenson Center. My current role coordinating programs at a non-profit organization has been directly inspired by the graduate courses and support I received from the faculty and staff at the Stevenson Center. Being a part of a program that combines academic theory with practical experience while volunteering overseas, was the perfect catalyst for the personal and professional goals I set for myself.”
Peace Corps Master’s International, 2014 Sociology
Dustin is currently a PhD student in the department of sociology at the University of Notre Dame. He is employed as a research assistant where he focuses on monitoring the latest developments in cognitive science, cultural sociology, and social network analysis. His dissertation work will expand on many of the insights he gained from his research as a Master’s International student in Azerbaijan while focusing on the nearby nation of Turkey.
While in the Peace Corps, Dustin worked with a group of young adults and other Peace Corps Volunteers to host the first Azerbaijan National Youth Film Festival, which was a nation-wide gathering for young filmmakers. Dustin recruited participants from rural parts of the country and offered video editing clinics at internet clubs and non-governmental organizations in the area. For his thesis research, Dustin focused primarily on economic sociology and how families respond to financial insecurity and distrust.
“It is safe to say without exaggeration, if not for the Stevenson Center I would not be where I am today. Very few master’s programs provide interdisciplinary coursework and an opportunity to do international research, while also maintaining a constant dialogue between theory and real-world practice. Most importantly, the faculty and staff were some of the most supportive I’ve encountered in my academic career.”