As an ISPP Scholar, Alicia V. Ross is appointed with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Broadband. Her work is significant as she looks to eliminate barriers to broadband and the digital divide. She supports communities, especially those that have historically been underserved and underrepresented in broadband access to bring digital equity to all neighborhoods. Alicia shared some thoughts with me about the ISPP program, and her work so far.
Why did you apply for the Illini Science Policy Program?
I applied for the Illini Science Policy Program because I heard of the great projects that previous scholars completed with each office where they were assigned. I wanted to be a part of team that has proven to be successful in learning more about policies in Illinois. I wanted to apply my knowledge and learn more about programming the state of Illinois has implemented and will implement. I applied because I knew the Illinois Extension has a wonderful history of service to all communities.
Tell us a bit about what you hope to accomplish as a result of being a 2023 Scholar.
I hope to establish lasting working relationships. I look forward to being a part of policy development. I hope to be of service to the communities we are working with at the Office of Broadband and University Illinois Extension.
Tell us a bit about what you are working on for your host agency.
I have worked on a federal proposal Eliminating the Digital Divide. This was a collaborative effort and we have recently learned it has been approved.
I review and meet with regional partners who have submitted proposals for the Broadband READY grants.
Tell us a bit about what you are working with your Extension Mentor
I will join the Extension broadband calls to share resources.
What makes the work you are doing as an ISPP Scholar meaningful to you?
The most meaningful thing to be about my work is servicing communities throughout the state of Illinois. It has been such a marvelous experience to be involved in the process of proving resources that help all communities in this digital age.
What is one thing that you have learned since becoming an ISPP Scholar that has made an impression on your transition from graduate student to career individual?
I’ve learned that there are many paths to my next career and that everything I have done previously has prepared me for now.
Why is/are the issue(s) important to the communities with which you are working?
I work for the Illinois Office of broadband and since the COVID10 pandemic began globally broadband is one of the essentials to daily living for all communities.
Who is impacted by the issue(s) you are working on?
Everyone is impacted by the issues I am working on. Youth, adults, and seniors. People who are in school, teaching, in other industries and those who are retired.
What is the most unexpected thing about this program so far?
The exceptional passion of everyone I have met my colleagues, supervisor, and communities we are serving.
If you could do one thing through this program and think “Wow, I did that,” what would you like it to be?
I believe one of those things I have already done and that is being involved with a team that has written, submitted and acceptance of the federal granted Eliminating the Digital Divide grant for the State of Illinois. Now, I look forward to the next steps of reviewing proposals of organizations that will receive the funding.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am grateful for this experience.