URBANA, Ill. – Five graduates from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are embarking on a year of public service as the inaugural class of the Illini Science Policy Fellowship program.
Offered by University of Illinois Extension, the fellowship matches advanced-degree graduates with mentors in Illinois government and Extension to gain hands-on experience addressing issues critical to Illinois' health and vitality.
“Now more than ever, it’s important to engage our graduates in solving challenges and supporting communities in Illinois,” said Evangeline S. Pianfetti, Extension outreach associate. “We hope the Fellows will gain experience that allows them to see how scientific research and collaboration can inform public policy for the benefit of our diverse Illinois communities.”
The 2020 Illini Science Policy Fellowship awardees include:
- Ruth Adekale (M.S., Management, Gies College of Business) with host Illinois Rep. Camille Y. Lilly, ILBC House Chair, and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation
- Ana Paula Sánchez Bustamante (M.S., Crop Science, College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences) with host Illinois Sen. Omar Aquino, ILLC co-chair, and the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus
- Hannah Price (M.S., Animal Science, College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences) with host Illinois Department of Agriculture
- Diamond Ruffin (M.S., Social Work, School of Social Work) with host Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)
- Allison Wheeler (M.A., European Union Studies, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences) with host Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology
The Illini Science Policy Fellowship is a unique post-graduate opportunity that focuses on the policy decisions supporting Extension’s critical issue areas: food, economy, environment, community, and health. The program matches highly motivated and qualified graduates completing their degree from Illinois with hosts in public agencies or the Illinois legislature for a 12-month paid fellowship.
“Each host agency comes to the program with a big, structural challenge to solve – whether that’s improving access to broadband internet, food safety, and STEM education, or supporting the well-being of Illinois’ Black and Latino communities,” said Deborah Seiler, coordinator, Extension and Public Engagement Connection Center, which administers the program. “We are so pleased with the talent of these new Fellows and their passion for public service.”
The Illini Science Policy Fellowship is supported by Illinois' Office of the Provost Investment for Growth program, participating host offices, the University of Illinois Office of Government Relations, and PepsiCo.