Nick Stevens (‘18) has co-founded and is working as a Program Manager with the Creative Institute of Central Arkansas, a recently-launched nonprofit that provides gap-year programs for young adults interested in exploring creative careers.
Creative Institute of Central Arkansas provides an alternate post-secondary path for young Arkansas creatives. Based in Conway, Ark., the program is built on an experiential framework in which students learn primarily through apprenticeships, portfolio work, and classroom teaching.
Co-founded with Executive Director Jessica Crum, the program is currently accepting applications for its inaugural class that will enroll in August 2021.
“I am simply bringing in my experience developing and coordinating educational programs to help make it happen and I'm happy to be on the team,” Stevens said.
Stevens, whose previous work experience includes time with UA Little Rock Children’s International, will mentor and coach students in his new role, providing comprehensive support from the initial application process through graduation. He will serve as the lead instructor for the program’s personal and professional skills classes. Other duties in his position as Program Manger include building partnerships with high school counselors, developing the school's curriculum, supporting partner recruitment, and fundraising and scholarship development.
Stevens said that his own field service experiences at the Clinton School will inform his work with Creative Institute of Central Arkansas.
“A very important element of the student experience is project-based learning with industry partners,” Stevens said. “I'm leaning on my experience with Practicum, IPSP, and Capstone as a model for this type of real-world, project-based learning.”
As a Clinton School student, Stevens was part of a team that partnered with the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute to develop a comprehensive report of effectiveness of the Arkansas GardenCorps, which promotes the use of school and community gardens. He worked with ACRI again for his international project, conducting formative research for the organization, generating profiles of immigrant populations in Arkansas, and identifying barriers and facilitators to their participation in farm to school activities.
“Those courses were wildly helpful to me for gaining professional experience and skills that just can't be delivered and digested the same way in a traditional classroom,” Stevens said. “I also took the very first Social Entrepreneurship class at the Clinton School with Terry Mazany. It was an incredible experience and I'm certainly reflecting on and applying the principles of social entrepreneurship in the development of this school.”
The Clinton School Speaker Series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.