Kate Brunk

Illinois State University

Kate is an experienced student leader and the epitome of a community-committed student. While earning her bachelor's degree as a first-generation college student, she worked with Women for Women International and Conservation Concepts. Graduating summa cum laude from Illinois College, she was the outstanding senior in research and engagement in public affairs.

Kate then served with three notable organizations: Fulbright, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps. She joined Illinois Campus Compact's AmeriCorps VISTA program and returned to Illinois College where she created a veteran support program and a mentoring program. After two VISTA terms, the college created a civic engagement coordinator position for Kate, which allowed her to deepen and expand opportunities for students (e.g., Alternative Breaks, CARE partnership). She simultaneously volunteered with numerous local organizations and in 2013 received the Illinois Governor's Volunteer Service Award.

Kate is currently an Applied Community and Economic Development Fellow in political science at Illinois State University. Following graduation, Kate wants to do "the laborious but critical work of engaging in the public policy process, identifying problems, lobbying policy makers, and analyzing how public policy impacts organizations on the ground serving communities in need." Her interests are racial/ethnic equity, gender equality, and environmental stewardship.

Larry Dietz
President
Illinois State University

Personal Statement

Reflecting on the opportunities and privileges I have been fortunate enough to have shapes the way I view civic engagement, my duty as an active citizen, and my role as a leader in my various communities. Providing opportunities to people, especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have experienced hardship, that enable them to learn more about the world and their community are essential in developing an active and engaged citizenry.

There is no cookie-cutter solution that can fix the difficulties we face in connecting with one another across differences. I have found, though, that providing structured learning experiences through mutually beneficial service and travel enable people from different backgrounds to quickly build trust and a sense of community. These micro-communities can make a huge impact not only in the lives of the group members but also on larger societal problems. Through collaboration, those community members confront obstacles more strategically and creatively than homogenous groups can. Experiences that meaningfully connect us with others who have had dramatically different life experiences can help us develop the open-mindedness and innovation needed to address modern challenges. They also provide us with opportunities to learn new perspectives
from one another and build empathy.

Kate Brunk
Political Science: Class of August 2019
written 2018

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