Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow visits Aurora University to share experiences

Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, Stephen Vetter, at Aurora UniversityThe Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action hosted Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Stephen Vetter, an internationally renowned expert on helping poor communities overcome poverty, March 25-28. Throughout the week, Vetter met with Aurora University students and faculty members to share his knowledge and discuss the importance of volunteerism, education, community development and the economics of poverty.

“Dr. Vetter was a compassionate speaker, offering different explanations on multiple spectrums, and was able to connect our study of social work into his economically-themed lesson,” said junior social work major Matthew Rodriguez. “He shows great ability to share parts of his life to allow students like me to move forward with an ambition to get my education.”

Vetter’s work has long been focused on helping poor communities and their leaders overcome poverty. He has held executive leadership positions in U.S. government agencies, foundations and the nonprofit sector, and is currently the president and CEO of Partners of the Americas, the largest inter-American voluntary organization committed to improving the life conditions of children and families living in poverty.

While on campus, Vetter emphasized the importance of being able to connect with meaningful people in meaningful ways to improve lives. “I think what is coming out of all of the students is the reality that an ordinary person can do extraordinary things if they are willing to enter into the path of leadership and prepare themselves. The heightened level of interest and curiosity in Aurora University students is remarkable to me,” said Vetter.

“Dr. Vetter’s presentation was inspiring,” said Ariana Espino, a sophomore psychology major. “He said that our generation wants to make a dent in this world and it’s true! I don’t want to sit back and have life pass me by; I want to make a difference.”

Toussaint Egan, senior communication major, echoed those sentiments. “His presentation was really informative and genuinely got me more interested in not-for-profit organizations.”

“Stephen Vetter was a perfect fit for Aurora University,” said Ted Parge, Executive Vice President and Interim Director of the Wackerlin Center. “Our students had a chance to meet a world-class expert with a deep knowledge of social responsibility, helping to create better understanding and new connections between the academic and nonacademic worlds.”

The Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program brings prominent professionals to campuses across the United States for a week-long residential program of classes, seminars, workshops, lectures and informal discussions. For 35 years, the Visiting Fellows have been introducing students and faculty members at liberal arts colleges to a wide range of perspectives on life, society, community and achievement.