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2021 Year In Review

As the COVID-19 pandemic surged on in 2021, we at the Chicago Center made great strides in growing our programs, pivoted to meet student and faculty needs, and said thank you to one of our longtime faculty members and emeritus director Dr. Scott Chesebro. In the midst of some of these challenges, our students explored Chicago neighborhoods and communities, and created lifelong friends. I also joined this incredible community this year as executive director and enjoy the opportunity to look back on some notable moments in our year together.


We welcomed two new apprentices to our Chicago Center team, Chelsea Cooks and Greer Anderson, who became great additions to our staff.

As we developed more robust student life programs and expanded our custom programs, like LearnChicago!, Ally Franz was promoted from program apprentice to

program manager.


Like so many during this time, we pivoted our custom program, LearnChicago!, to be a virtual, weekly session in partnership with Keystone College’s Dr. Vicki Stanavitch. Each week, Chicago Center community experts joined Dr. Stanavitch’s public health course to understand public health challenges urban areas face.


Audra Duren, FA’10, reflects on her decision to attend Chicago Center and her journey from social worker to employee at LinkedIn.

“It's one thing to study human behaviors & advocacy, and it's another thing to be dropped into one of most diverse cities in many people are lucky enough to get that experience at such a young age & with guidance to navigate it too?!?”


We know the first year of the pandemic changed our lives forever and turned our world upside down as we knew it. Our program proudly pivoted to virtual learning and student placement, all while prioritizing student, instructor, and community health. Nevertheless, our students and staff persevered and found success through the most difficult year in our shared history.


After serving on the board of directors for a number of years and as interim executive director, Tyler L. Hough, MS, joined the Center as executive director.

"The circumstances of the past 18 months place this organization in a unique position to deepen our commitment to Chicago and experiential learning, and I’m honored to build on the Center’s 50 years of incredible student and community learning.”


We added two new alumni board members to our growing board of directors in June. Bringing decades of experience in the nonprofit and education spaces, Tiff Beatty, J’07, and Kevin Hough, FA’99 joined the Center’s board of directors.


For the first time since early 2020, we brought together Chicago Center alumni for our annual Alumni Picnic at the Promontory Point. Alumni from 11 class years joined in reconnecting with friends and meeting other alumni and students.


Ever wonder what it’s like to live at the BLVD? Interested in reminiscing about your time as a student? Our team put together this video on the BLVD, where our student live today.


To address the growing student financial aid need, we launched the Campaign for Student Financial Aid to make sure a Chicago Center education and experiential learning remains accessible to all students regardless of ability to pay.


As part of our new alumni engagement programs, we launched the Alumni Ambassador Program! Ambassadors help us connect with other alumni, mentor students, and help amplify new and existing programs.


Downtown Chicago provided the perfect backdrop for a sit-down interview with Caitlyn-Rae Arendse, FA’21, from Albion College.

She reflected on landing her perfect internship at West Town Law Office and the unique learning opportunities that happened for her during her time with Chicago Center.


We ended the year on a bittersweet note: after 44 years with the Chicago Center, Dr. Scott Chesebro retired (for a second time). While we said goodbye, Scott’s influence will live on every day in the learning happening in our programs. Thank you, Scott!

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