The Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship offers emerging young leaders the skills and networks needed to create the community they envision and jumpstart a career in public service. In our #FellowFriday blog series, hear from members of the 2016-17 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship cohort about their year-long experience working and living in Cleveland.
College: Spelman College
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Fellowship Host Site: Cleveland City Council
Why did you initially decide to participate in this fellowship?
I decided to participate in the fellowship because it was the perfect gap-year experience for me. I knew I wanted to work in the public sector, particularly within local government, and I saw that there were potential placements for fellows in that area. Also, I had not identified a specific area of interest for an advanced degree, and I knew that my work experiences in this fellowship would help me narrow down my interests for my next level of education.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your fellowship experience?
The most valuable aspect of my experience has been the opportunity to witness the day-to-day obstacles, interactions and responsibilities of local government. There are so many issues to tackle every day – from the pretty and fun things, to the boring, hard, but necessary tasks that have to be addressed. There are constant decisions to be made on issues such as reducing our infant mortality rate, at the same time tackling the rising drug overdose epidemic, while still trying to curb increased violence in the city. I have a gained a new understanding and respect for what it means to be a public servant.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?
When I am not working, I enjoy traveling to different restaurants around the city and trying all sorts of delicious foods. I love attending social events all over the city and shopping at various consignment shops.
How has this fellowship affected your career plans?
This fellowship has helped me narrow down the paths I would like to pursue for my next level of education. My work on addressing the County’s infant mortality rate at my host agency has developed into my current passion piece, which is focused on exploring the effects of historical and institutional racism on the health and well-being of African American women.
Why would you recommend this fellowship program to others?
I would recommend this fellowship to others because it provides a great introduction into the world of public service, and provides support in navigating through the initial bumps and bruises that you will encounter entering this sector fresh out of the undergraduate experience. Also, the cohort consists of a small group of individuals who experience this journey alongside one another, and will become some of the greatest friends that you will have long after the fellowship ends.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship?
I would tell them that if they have the desire to improve the quality of life for others, and if they are interested in exploring the public sector as an opportunity to achieve this desire, then this fellowship is right for them
Want to learn more about the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship? Find details about the program and application process here, and sign up to receive email updates about the fellowship program here.