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A Walk in a Park and More: SPEA Student Earns Unusual Fellowship

May 16, 2013
Bloomington, Indiana --

SPEA master’s student Alexandra Toledo is spending a week this summer at an Indiana State Park. But this is no vacation. Toledo has earned a prestigious Byron Fellowship. As a result, she joins a handful of students from around the world at Turkey Run State Park in Bloomingdale, Indiana.

“This is allowing me to take time away from the rhythm of grad school and learn more about career possibilities and more about myself,” Toledo says.

The Byron Fellowship program brings an array of practitioners and academics to the park to guide the students through five days of learning, listening, reflecting and exploring the idyllic natural setting.

SPEA students traditionally are among the Byron recipients. Jessica Vogt, Farkhat Yussupjanov, Amy O’Shea and others have used the fellowship as a springboard to career success.

Although she grew up in the Midwest and earned her undergraduate degree from Macalester College in Minnesota, Toledo thinks globally and this fellowship is a perfect fit. She’s due to receive both her MPA in nonprofit management and an MA in Latin American Studies from IU next year.

The Byron Fellowship is just part of a busy summer. Toledo is also spending two months in Peru, researching a master’s thesis in food policy. Her goal is to have a career in sustainability, food policy and community advocacy. These opportunities, at a state park in rural Indiana and an international capital in South America, represent substantial steps toward that goal.

“We’re proud that Alexandra was chosen for this fellowship and eager to continue our partnership with an organization that does so much good for our students and, really, for the world,” says SPEA Director of Graduate Student Services Jennifer Forney.