Alexis Smyser is a third year Honors College student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her passion, both in and out of the classroom, is devoted to working to eradicate injustices close to home and around the world. A strong, vocal community activist she eagerly engages in community meetings with elected officials and contributes to dialogue regarding the social issues affecting Latinos in Chicago and nation-wide. She plays a conscientious civic role to make an impact in the lives of those in her community. A student leader who never ceases to ask: what more can I do?
Although she has been actively engaged in this work since the age of 12, more recently her work with the Goldin Institute is most impressive. In her short time working at the Goldin Institute she has already made important contributions to their work of building curriculum to help grassroots activists more effectively lead community-driven social change. More specifically, she conducted a wide range of video-taped interviews with grassroots leaders from around the world to solicit "stories of change" that impacted the curriculum design. Alexis is an outstanding socially-just active citizen who we are proud to have has a member of our community.
My personal, academic, and career plans each revolve around the passion I have for improving my city. Growing up on the West side of Chicago, I have always known that I wanted to replicate the hands-on model of service practiced by my neighbors, who I observed as they fought issues ranging from divested schools to gang violence. After high school I completed a year of service through the Americorps program Public Allies, where I completed over 1700 hours of service in ten months for The Goldin Institute.
At the Goldin Institute I organized interviews with a dozen grassroots leaders from different countries on topics of leadership and creating change from the bottom up. This interview series not only served as an invaluable learning experience where I received advice from leaders who succeeded in tackling dire social issues, but it serves a crucial element of the Goldin Institute's leadership curriculum, which is now called GATHER. GATHER has since been implemented in Bogotá where it is being utilized by organizations working to serve residents which have been displaced by Colombia's 50-year civil war.
Currently, I work at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum where I provide tours and facilitate civic dialogues.