Executive Assistant, Neighborhoods Initiative
Beverly Washington has worked at a variety of roles
at UIC since 1980. She took a brief hiatus to go back to school,
with the professional and personal support of her director, Dr.
Cynthia "Cee" Barnes-Boyd. "I was a single-parent
with two children, and she assisted me in getting back to school,
with the encouragement that she gave me, and not only me, but
everybody who works with, for, around her."
When she returned to the university as Dr. Barnes-Boyd’s
executive assistant in the Neighborhoods Initiative, "I
felt like I came home. I actually love working here at UIC."
The Neighborhoods Initiative of the Great Cities Institute fosters
partnerships with organizations in the surrounding UIC neighborhoods
to implement programs and to communicate what programs are available.
They form partnerships with organizations to provide housing,
jobs, healthcare, and technology training, and spread information
about those programs. The Division of Community Health, housed
in the College of Nursing, focuses on health programs. "Our
main area is school-based health centers that we offer with Chicago
Public Schools. Right now we’re in two schools with clinics,
but we partner with five. We provide health maintenance for students
and their immediate families."
Since starting with the Neighborhoods Initiative, Beverly has
seen UIC increase its university-wide support of the program.
"Now they’re reaching out to foster the programs.
becoming more involved in what we do and learning about what
we do and trying to duplicate it university-wide. When they first
started, it was the Great Cities Initiative; now they call it
the Great Cities Commitment, because they have put the backing
into keeping the program going."
What brings her joy in her work? "For me, it’s about
the different types of people I come in contact with on all levels,
from extreme poverty to middle class. To learn about them, to
understand what they experience and their needs and to be able
to provide some of those needs is very exciting for me. Sometimes
I’m here till nine, ten o’clock at night getting
a grant out, but to know that when you get that phone call that
says ‘congratulations, you’ve been funded,’ and
that’s another program that we can give people who would
otherwise not have access – that’s a great feeling."