Throughout the years, students have made impactful changes on campus. During her time at Drake, Jamie Willer was one of these star students. A 2017 Drake graduate, she is currently working at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and oversees their Office of Community Service. Through her role, she works to build and strengthen both co-curricular and curricular community engagement efforts in partnership with staff, faculty, students, and community partners.
While at Drake, Willer worked with the Office of Community Engaged Learning (CEL) as President and founding member of the Community Action Board (CAB). When she wasn’t leading her peers, she studied Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Justice in Urban Education. Following graduation, she worked at LSI and served as their Statewide Volunteer Coordinator. All this and more led Willer to pursue her Master’s degree in Community Engagement with a focus on Higher Education in Massachusetts. She has kept in touch with Drake’s Community Engaged Learning Office and has maintained a mutually beneficial relationship. Willer commented that CEL staff members Renee and Amanda helped shape her Master’s level research, and for the past two years, Willer has been invited back to Drake to facilitate conversations concerning her area of expertise in white savior complex.
When asked what advice she would give other students Willer said, “Value the incredible assets of the Drake Neighborhood and the surrounding community, particularly the expertise of community leaders of color. There are some incredible activists and educators in Des Moines who I’ve learned so much from about what it means to engage in communities, not from a savior mentality, but a place rooted in solidarity.” Willer modeled her advice while at Drake by attending Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) meetings. These meetings are still held right here in the Drake neighborhood.
Late night community action board meetings and other Drake memories are still with Willer today. “We used to go get half-priced apps and chat for hours about the work we were doing and it was truly incredible to be surrounded by people who had the same visions and passions and cared just as deeply about the work.” Willer is proud to report that many of those people became some of her closest friends. She still catches up with them regularly.
Our fabulous alumna left us with this quote, “I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people.” – Eduardo Galeano.
Thank you, Jamie, for all you do. You have a knack for inspiring others. Thank you for showing the world that #DrakeServes.