Walden University student and Commitment to Social Change scholarship winner Amanda Allalunis describes how her M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Leadership program is supporting her community-building effort in a rural New Mexico town.
By Pamela Corante-Hansen
STARTED: March 2010
WHERE I WORK: Tres Piedras Community Enhancement, Inc., a nonprofit organization that I co-founded in March 2009.
WHAT I DO: As president, everything! I’m trying to get a community center built where I live, in Tres Piedras, N.M. Right now, there’s a post office and the U.S. Forest Service—that’s it. There’s no gas station, no grocery store, no place for the community to get together. We need a physical place to launch a successful community-building effort. Our mission includes a technology center within the community center to provide broadband access for all residents.
WHAT PEOPLE IN MY ORGANIZATION THINK ABOUT WALDEN: They’re the whole reason I’m in the program. They wanted me to get a degree that would go beyond my bachelor’s in business—specifically, one that targeted nonprofit management. They saw that Walden was the best university to offer this type of program.
HOW I WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: I hope to increase education and employment opportunities for the people of Tres Piedras. A large portion of the population lives without electricity or running water. The nearest school is a three-hour bus ride away. We want the kids who are homeschooling to have better access to the Internet.
WHEN I STUDY: I cram in my studying after the kids go to bed. My son is 5, my daughter is 2, and we have a three-month-old baby [as of October 2010].
WHAT I’VE LEARNED ALREADY: I’m only in my third quarter at Walden, but everything I’ve learned so far has been an amazing help in my work with the community. I’ve gained knowledge about the legal environment, finances, and volunteer management. And my writing skills have improved in all aspects.
WHAT INSPIRES ME: It’s my community that inspires me to work this hard. Some of the poorest people here are the most generous human beings you’ll ever meet. They are amazing and kindhearted.
WHAT I TELL OTHERS ABOUT WALDEN: It’s challenging, but it lives up to its promises and it’s really changing my life. I went to a traditional four-year college for my bachelor’s, but Walden’s online degree is twice as challenging, and I’m learning more than I ever thought.