Ever wonder what Philly Fellows alumni go on to do? In the ‘Alumni Spotlight’ series, we’ll introduce you to our program alumni, their work, and how they benefited from the Philly Fellows program. This post features Jean Strout, who served as the Communications Fellow at Community Partnership School.
Name: Jean Strout
Hometown: Falmouth, Maine
University: Swarthmore College
How did you decide to become a Philly Fellow?
I wanted to get to know Philadelphia better after spending college off in the suburbs at Swarthmore.
What was your favorite part about being a Philly Fellow?
I loved constantly being around children at my placement, which was an elementary school full of positivity and excitement. In retrospect, I especially value the connections that Philly Fellows made possible. My next job after Philly Fellows was at a former host organization, and everywhere I go I run into people who were involved with the program. It helps me stand out as someone who has been committed to this community over time.
What were some things you did as a Philly Fellow that prepared you for the things you’re doing now?
As a Philly Fellow, I worked around young children from North Philadelphia. Because I was working in an education setting and part of my job was community engagement, I was able to learn a lot about the children’s lives and the various barriers and struggles they faced as they grew up. Working at Community Partnership School solidified my goal of working with children and pushed me toward my next step of law school.
Do you have any advice to those interested in applying to be a Philly Fellow?
Be open-minded about the host organizations and creative ways you can build your skills. During my Philly Fellows year, one of my roommates worked for a legal non-profit doing journalism work that built toward her current career; I did development work at an education non-profit that helped prepare me to be a child advocate. It’s okay if the path forward isn’t clear – you and your host organization will find a way.
What would you consider your biggest success(es) since Philly Fellows?
My new job is as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, at Support Center for Child Advocates. It’s a long and complicated name, but what it means is that I got to create a new, two-year position at a legal non-profit. I was allowed to choose my own priorities and focus on the population I most wanted to support – youth who are aging out of the foster care system. It is really rare to be able to design your own job, and I feel really lucky to be experiencing that right now.
What was the most challenging part of being a Philly Fellow?
I had a difficult time transitioning from the more self-directed school schedule to full time work for the first time. I have to admit that I did not always wake up when my alarm went off!
A huge plus to this program is getting to live & work in Philadelphia’s vibrant communities. What did you like about living in the city? Where did you explore?
When I started Philly Fellows, I knew I wanted to get to know the city but wasn’t sure if I was committed to staying there long term. By the end of the year, when I headed off for law school, I knew I had to come back. I’ve now bought a house in Philadelphia and think I might be here for good.
What’s your favorite hobby?
My favorite thing to do is play with my mutt, Tilly.