#FellowFriday: Stephanie Choi’s Fellowship Experience

Stephanie (left) with her fellowship host site supervisor Mike Foley (right), signing one of the solar panels for the county's Brooklyn Landfill solar project.

The Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship offers emerging young leaders the skills and networks needed to create the community they envision and jumpstart a career in public service. In our #FellowFriday blog series, hear from members of the 2017-18 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship cohort about their year-long experience working and living in Cleveland. We’re currently accepting applications for the 2019-2020 fellowship. Learn more and apply here.

Stephanie Choi  

College: University of Arizona

Hometown: Buckeye, Arizona

Fellowship Host SiteCuyahoga County Department of Sustainability

Why did you initially decide to participate in this fellowship?

I decided to participate in the fellowship because I knew I wanted to experience working in local government and am passionate about community, place, and public service. In addition, my fellowship match with the Department of Sustainability at Cuyahoga County was aligned with my passion for working on environmental issues & sustainability.

What has been the most valuable aspect of your fellowship experience?

The most valuable aspect of my fellowship has been the cohort experience and the support we provide to one another.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your fellowship experience?

Learning processes and various politics of new institutions, as well as learning a new place since I am not from Cleveland. Also, since I was coming in as a student activist for environmental and social justice, it has been a challenge to learn that in the “real world” a lot of compromise has to happen for even the smallest amount of progress. I have seen and experienced this in my work and it has been valuable to learn how much goes on “behind the scenes” for every little victory towards social and environmental progress.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?

I enjoy reading and writing in coffee shops, going to art shows, bookstores (Guide to Kulchur!!), plays, and music shows. I love walking around my neighborhood, riding my bike, and exploring the metroparks. I also enjoy spending time with my friends at all the great bars around town!

What’s your favorite Cleveland restaurant?

I enjoy Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th, Map of Thailand in Asiatown, Momocho in Ohio City, Il Rione, Spice, Astoria, and Happy Dog in Detroit-Shoreway, and the Beachland Ballroom for brunch.

Why would you recommend this fellowship program to others?

This fellowship really immerses you in the Cleveland civic sector and community. It is amazing to be able to learn so much about a place in one year and become immersed in what happens within the city/county. This fellowship also connects you to other young and passionate public servants who will become your lifelong network and friends.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship?

Keep your passion for people, community, and place. Keep an open heart and mind, and be a good listener to yourself and others!

Want to learn more about the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship? Sign up to receive email updates about the fellowship program here.

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