Stevenson Center alumnus returns as program coordinator – archyde
Katie Raynor, well into her first year as the Stevenson Center’s program coordinator, knows firsthand what it means to give back. She is more dedicated than most, serving in AmeriCorps and Peace Corps before her graduate studies and a role that allows her to help and inspire future leaders in community and economic development.
“I had lived almost exclusively in Kentucky up until that point, close to my family, so it was exciting — and terrifying — to suddenly uproot and move to Los Angeles,” Raynor said.
Getting involved in community development at the grassroots level solidified Raynor’s desire to join the Peace Corps. After earning a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Louisville, she served in South Africa.
Raynor commented on the daily contrasts between first world and third world she encountered in South Africa, which made it a particularly difficult place for most volunteers to adapt.
“Our host nation personnel compared the beginning of the Peace Corps to being a newborn,” Raynor said. “We had to relearn even the most basic tasks such as speaking Zulu, eating with our hands and washing with a bucket and without running water.”
She has volunteered in education for students from kindergarten to grade 8, teaching mainly English and math. She also spent a lot of time in the community attending church services, weddings, funerals and other events hosted by co-workers.
“I enjoyed visiting the women in the community, doing things like learning to cook South African food, helping with laundry and listening to their stories,” Raynor said. “I also loved walking around with some of the kids in the village and helping them practice English.”
Having served in the AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, Raynor was more than qualified to continue her education with the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development. As a Fellow, she pursued a master’s degree in sociology with an interdisciplinary sequence in community and applied economic development.
After her 11-month professional practice at the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging which led to a full-time position there, she returned to the Stevenson Center in June 2016 as Program Coordinator. With so much experience, she is a valuable resource for students in all Stevenson Center programs.
“I loved my time here as a student and am now thrilled to be able to share this opportunity with countless other prospective students,” Raynor said.
The Stevenson Center is unique in that Fellows enter with a history of dedication to serving communities, resulting in cohorts that have practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge to affect positive social and economic change. The programs ensure that students have opportunities to dialogue and research both inside and outside the classroom with peers who have diverse perspectives.
“I’m so lucky to have a job where I can interact with amazing, driven, and compassionate students, faculty, staff, and partners every day,” Raynor said. “I truly believe that the Stevenson Center is one of the best values in terms of holistic, service-oriented higher education.”
Kaitlin Pavsner is a public relations intern at the Stevenson Center.