The Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED)at the University of Central Arkansas has launched a new Community and Economic Development Fellowship program to prepare students for careers in the field.

The five students who were selected for this spring’s program are Danny Baxter, of Clarksville; Jacob Holland, of Cabot; Jordan Johnson, of Jacksonville; Brittany Lutz, of Montclair, Virginia; and Ellen McKinnie, of Cabot.

"The mission of the CCED Fellowship is to expose UCA students to a variety of community or economic development careers and provide networking, coaching and mentoring to enhance career preparedness," a news release states.

Students were selected after a competitive application process and the fellowship program will be held in both the spring and fall semesters.

“UCA has been an advocate for community development for the past 32 years, so we have an opportunity to begin leveraging the relationships and partnerships of the university to assist students in preparing for a life of community impact and civic engagement,” Amy Whitehead, director of the CCED, said. “The field of community and economic development has much to be gained from the next generation of leaders emerging from UCA.”

During the program, fellows participate in three site visits that showcase community and economic development activities — including job shadowing, organization tours, mock interviews and mentorship from CCED staff — at the local and state levels of government and in the nonprofit sector.

Fellows also have the opportunity to join the Arkansas Community Development Society and attend the 2018 Community Development Institute free of charge.

“From the fellowship, I hope to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the field of public policy, as well as economic development as a whole. I also look forward to making connections that will help me build my future,” Baxter, a senior double majoring in English and Spanish, said.

Johnson, a senior double majoring in journalism and political science, said the program’s exposure to the community and economic development field caught her interest.

“I want to get involved with my community in a professional capacity," she said. "One of my majors is political science, so the opportunity to get experience in the field appealed to me."

Holland, a sophomore double majoring in communication and political science, said he wished to gain background knowledge on the best ways to approach development. 

“My goal is to learn specific steps I can take in order to make development a reality,” he said.

Lutz, a current CCED intern, said she wants to gain more real-world contacts. 

“I hope the fellowship provides me with insight on what different organizations are doing right now to impact their communities,” she said.

McKinnie, a senior double majoring in political science and history, said she looks forward to networking.

“I am most excited about meeting and connecting with people from around the state who not only possess influence but who use it to serve and protect the people that live in our communities,” McKinnie said.

For more information on the CCED Fellowship, visit uca.edu/cced/community-and-economic-development-fellowship/ or call Shelby Fiegel at 501-450-5269.

"The Center for Community and Economic Development’s mission is to have a positive impact on communities by equipping leaders with economic tools and resources, building consensus to achieve community goals and bringing UCA resources and communities together," according to the release. "The CCED envisions communities across Arkansas and the country with robust economies, a flourishing quality of life, and diverse and engaged citizen leaders. CCED provides customized training and technical assistance to communities and their leaders."

To learn more about the CCED, vista uca.edu/cced.