Kennedy Neely

Ariel Smith

Ophelia Akoto

The Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) at the University of Central Arkansas has selected undergraduate students Kennedy Neely of Weiner and Ariel Smith of Conway and graduate student Ophelia Akoto of Ghana, West Africa for the fall Community and Economic Development (CED) Fellowship.

The mission of the CED Fellowship is to expose students to a variety of community or economic development careers and provide networking, coaching and mentoring to enhance student career preparedness.

During the program, fellows attend site visits that showcase community and economic development activities at the local and state levels of government and in the nonprofit sector. The fellows participate in activities such as job shadowing, organization tours, mock interviews and mentorship from CCED staff. Fellows also have the opportunity to join the Arkansas Community Development Society and attend the 2020 Community Development Institute. Fellowship activities are customized to fit students’ interests and needs.

“I have always been passionate about nonprofits, and I believe this experience will give me firsthand knowledge through exposure to different nonprofits in central Arkansas. This experience will also boost my professional network,” said Akoto, who is working toward a master of Business Administration.

Neely, a junior double majoring in political science and international studies, said that she applied for the fellowship because she thought it would be a great way to develop a professional network and increase her knowledge of jobs available in the community and economic development field.

The fall 2019 fellowship began in August and will run through December, with a monthly site visit to a community and economic development organization. The fellows have already visited Winrock International and Heifer International and are slated to visit the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Municipal League in November and December.

“I applied for the fellowship to gain real-world experience,” said Smith, a senior public administration major. “Through the mock interview process and one-on-ones with top executives in the organizations I will be visiting, I believe I will be better prepared to enter the workforce.”

“Our staff at the Center for Community and Economic Development views the CED Fellowship as a unique opportunity for UCA students as they think about next steps after college. Developing a professional network and receiving insider information on the organizations they visit will give them a leg up as they apply for jobs in the field of community and economic development,” said Shelby Fiegel, director of the UCA Center for Community and Economic Development.

For more information about the CED Fellowship, visit: uca.edu/cced/community-and-economic-development-fellowship/ or call Fiegel at (501) 450-5269.

About the Center for Community and Economic Development

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. 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 and is part of UCA’s Division of Outreach and Community Engagement.