Educational Policy and Foundations Fellows Profiles

Meet the Educational Policy and Foundations graduate alumni. Read below to learn about their education experience and service as a Trinity Fellow at Marquette University.

Ben Precourt

Trinity Fellow Class of 2021
Graduate Program: Educational Policy & Foundations
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: Communication, Saint John’s University 
Full-time Service and Nonprofit Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University – 2015-2017; College Possible – 2017-2019

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More about Ben

Describe Your Service and Nonprofit Experience:
I got into nonprofit work because of an unflinching and genuine belief in the power of young people. The fact that high school students have the audacity to dream about brilliant futures within an extremely flawed world is inspiring to me.

Trinity was the perfect for me in a lot of ways - I wanted to stay in Milwaukee – a city that I love. I wanted to be a part of a cohort program with like-minded people that cared about social justice. And, I wanted to learn about educational and societal equity issues.

The program was the perfect fit for me because Trinity is all about relationships, collaboration, and co-learning. Particularly during a global pandemic, I needed all of the support I could get. And, I got that support with Trinity.

Describe Your Trinity Fellowship Experience:
Trinity Fellows really upended my worldview. Before the fellowship, I had a pretty simplistic understanding of the social sector and reckoning with equity issues like racism and poverty. Now, I feel like I have a much better understanding of the layered complexity of addressing issues.

I love Milwaukee so much. One of the hallmarks of the fellowship is completing a nonprofit placement, and I was so unbelievably lucky to get to interact with the Milwaukee community through my work at Milwaukee Public Library. Trinity gives students the opportunity to apply their learning in the city we all care so much about.

Being a Trinity Fellow means showing up for people – your cohort, Marquette, and the City of Milwaukee. It means using a social-justice lens in all elements of your life and being committed to making social change.

My greatest accomplishment was balancing the various elements of graduate school – academic work, placement, another job, a personal life, finding work after graduate school, and social justice work/activism in the community.

Plans After Graduation:
Following graduation, I started a position at the Harvard Graduate School of Education supporting master’s students. In the future, I hope to work in rural student college access and success.

Trinity has been invaluable to me in understanding how to imagine and implement change-making initiatives through systems-thinking, anti-racism, and relationship-building. My Trinity experience has reshaped the way I see the world and how I want to act in my personal life and professional spaces.

Favorite Thing(s) About Milwaukee:
Primarily, the human beings. I have been so lucky to get to interact with so many wonderful humans during my time at Marquette, College Possible, and Milwaukee Public Library. Milwaukee is filled with engaging, thoughtful people that want to make our community a place where people of all identities are welcome and can flourish.

Also, THE FOOD. And, the lake. And, Boswell Books. And, taco trucks.

Samantha Oliver 

Trinity Fellow Class of 2017
Graduate Program: MA, Educational Policy and Foundations (EDFP)
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: International Development, Calvin College
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: International Institute of Wisconsin, New American Programs Coordinator
Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location: Peace Corps Georgia, 2010-2012, Republic of Georgia

More about Samantha


Service Experience
I had always wanted to join the Peace Corps because of my knowledge of it from my studies. One of the deciding factors for me was the fact that Peace Corps only goes where they are asked. The organizations and schools where Peace Corps volunteers work have to apply to get a volunteer. This means they are wanted in the places they are going. I come from an international development background where so many foreign organizations go places where the organization sees a need without waiting for the community or organization to ask for them to come. Unfortunately, this changes the entire dynamic of service, development, and aid.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
I began looking at graduate studies before I finished my Peace Corps service, but I didn't think that I could get into the Trinity Fellows Program because I hadn't taken the GRE at the time. Thus I applied to a few other programs. Those program didn't end up working out and so I studied and took the GRE. I was interested in the Trinity Fellows Program because I really wanted my graduate school experience to be paired with real life experience. I wasn't interested in only studying academically, I wanted to be able to apply the things I was learning in the classroom to work in the field. That was something quite unique about the Trinity Fellows Program. I was also very attracted to the social justice aspect of the fellowship.

I really enjoyed my time at Marquette and my experience working for the International Institute of Wisconsin. Working with refugees was such a joy, seeing people begin to build a life here in Milwaukee was the highlight of my experience. Once you are a Trinity Fellow you're always a Trinity Fellow. I really appreciate the camaraderie that comes with being a Trinity Fellow and I look forward to continuing the friendships that I have begun through the program for many years to come.

Plans After Graduation
I'll be staying in Milwaukee for the foreseeable future and I am hoping to work in the field of education in some capacity. This could be for a nonprofit that serves schools or students, or for a school directly. I'm excited about what the future holds.

Current Position
Program Manager for the MarVan Scholars Program, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee

Fonda Held

Trinity Fellows Class of 2016
Graduate Program: Educational Policy and Foundations (EDPF)
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: Social Studies Education (7-12), Miami University of Ohio
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: Carmen High School, Special Assistant to Head of Schools

More about Fonda

Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location
My AmeriCorps program focused on educational services in Chicago. I was placed in a startup charter high school and performed a variety of responsibilities inside and outside of the classroom. In addition to co-teaching 9th grade social studies, I managed after school programming, which included tutoring and enrichment. I also founded student council and coached girl’s softball, as well as created several service learning opportunities for students within the community.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
Like my AmeriCorps experience, Trinity placed me in a charter network that currently has three campuses in Milwaukee. My first year focused heavily on expansion and I learned a lot about working with the school board, superintendent, and community organizations. In my second year, I worked more closely with the network administration team and had the privilege of working with school leaders to develop their instructional leadership. I was able to apply a lot of my course work to my Trinity placement.

I loved my academic experience because there are several great professors in the EDPF program. They truly teach with a social justice lens and challenged me consistently throughout my time at Marquette. I plan to reach out to them as I move forward in my journey and am grateful for their mentorship. I’ve definitely become a more open minded and flexible person as a result of my Trinity experience.

Plans after graduation
I am moving to southern California to join the leadership team of a startup charter high school.

Current Position
Assistant Vice Principal, USC College Prep Santa Ana

Cara Bell

Graduate Program: Educational Policy and Foundations (EDPL)
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: BA Elementary Education and Human Development, Boston College
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: Adult Learning Center, Transition Specialist

More about Cara

Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location
I served through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Sacramento, CA from 2007-2008. I lived within a community of seven people while serving as a combined third and fourth grade classroom teacher at a small local Catholic school in south Sacramento. While there, I planned and taught lessons across all subject areas for a class of 16 students. It was wonderful to be a part of such a welcoming school community where I got to know the students and their families well. For the summer months, I served at Women’s Empowerment, a nonprofit for women who have experiences domestic violence. There I assisted with some administrative duties as well as coordinated a summer camp program for children of the women.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
For me, the Trinity Fellowship experience has been all about the power of relationships. I am so inspired and grateful for my cohort, for each of them is such a talented individual who I am glad to now call a friend. Additionally, prior to working at the Adult Learning Center, my Trinity placement, I considered myself a person who was good with names. But then, I was faced with 150+ students, over 100 volunteer tutors, community partners, and our internal staff. And I had contact with them all! It’s been truly amazing to establish these connections and get to know them (and their names!) on a personal level. This is what has made the work as Transition Specialist at the ALC amazing. In this role, I supported students by organizing workshops on job readiness and soft skills development, maintained community partnerships, managed volunteer tutor information and communications, and performed many other general administrative duties to support Center operations.

I completed my graduate degree in Educational Policy & Foundations and found the professors and course content to be thought-provoking and stimulating. I certainly developed my abilities to challenge my own and others’ thinking when confronted with issues facing our nation’s educational system and the needs of leaders in these arenas. It was wonderful (and often intimidating) to engage with conversations with other Master’s students as well as PhD candidates who had so much to offer!

Plans after graduation
I’ve fallen in love with Milwaukee and am excited to begin a job with Goodwill Industries as a Workforce Development Educator!

Current Position
Educator - Workforce Development, Goodwill Industries.

Joseph Kaltenberg 

Trinity Fellow Class of 2015
Graduate Program: Educational Policy and Foundations (EDPL)
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: Exercise Science, P.E. Teacher Certification, UW-La Crosse
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: City Year Milwaukee, Training and Evaluation

More about Joseph

Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location
I served in the Peace Corps as a Rural Education Specialist in Zambia. During my time I served a rural village school as a co-teacher in 8/9th grade English and primary teacher in 8/9th grade Geography. I conducted a resource assessment of 6 schools for the Ministry of Education District Education Board. I also organized community resources towards the rehabilitation of athletic fields, purchased equipment, trained coaches and created a handbook for a zonal athletic program.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
My academic experience was characterized by challenging and engaging course content, caring and knowledgeable professors, and a social justice orientation. There were a number of options for scheduling classes aligned with my interests. Projects were relevant to the field of education and proved to be valuable experiences for my own professional development and for networking purposes.

My agency experience was difficult but extremely valuable. It represented an opportunity to not only fill a need for a local organization, but to grow as a professional. I was lucky enough to have a great supervisor who understood what the program was all about and allowed me the autonomy I wanted, and the structure I needed to be productive. I was doing good work and learning at the same time.

Perhaps the most impactful part of this experience was learning about all the amazing things happening in Milwaukee. The program allows you opportunities to learn from city leaders and have access to them in ways I never would have had otherwise. It was great from a networking standpoint and helped me develop a connection to the city that would not have been possible on my own.

Plans after graduation
I have accepted a position as program coordinator for MKE Plays, an initiative of Common Council President, Michael Murphy, focused on the rehabilitation of city parks using community input for design and construction. More broadly, I hope to work with youth, using sport/recreation as a tool for physical, social, and emotional development.

I am also pursuing opportunities in sustainable housing development, with a particular interesting in shared/cooperative living and urban homesteading.

Current Position:
Program Coordinator for MKE Plays