One of CEDAM’s newest team members, Shate’ja Curry, joins us as our AmeriCorps and fellowship program coordinator. We sat down with Shate’ja to learn more about her past experiences and what she’s most excited about in this new role!
Can you give me a brief overview of your professional background?
I worked for the Washtenaw County Trial Court as a deputy court clerk. I was essentially the liaison between judges and the public. I supported 5 judicial officers throughout the process, from before the case is filed to after the hearing has been held. What made Washtenaw different was that we had juvenile and probate courts in the same building. I’ve always been very interested in the legal field and wanted to get my feet wet. I also worked at Mott Children’s Hospital as an administrative assistant in pediatric neurology. I transferred to pediatric orthopedic surgery as a patient services associate. With my degree in urban and regional studies, and in both positions, I learned that where someone lives can affect their whole lives.
How did these experiences lead you to CEDAM?
I developed an interest in policies, and how they can build or destroy communities. I realized that communities are crafted by design, and less than 5 miles can drastically change your conditions in life. I wanted to work for an organization that combats the things I’ve seen. We have the ability to see multiple ideas and goals come together for the greater good.
What are you looking forward to most as program coordinator at CEDAM?
I’m looking forward to seeing how the AmeriCorps members and cohort of fellows develop over the course of their programs. Hopefully I’ll see that they take a lot away from the experience.
What do you appreciate most about AmeriCorps?
I’m most appreciative that AmeriCorps is public service. The bulk of my professional experience has been in public service. AmeriCorps gives people opportunities to develop in career paths, or to get into new fields. It’s an amazing launching pad for those who don’t know where to start. It’s exciting they get to work with communities and build deep ties both personally and professionally.
What excites you most about community development?
It’s exciting when people see ideas through to completion. Being able to see and create sustainable change for community members. There’s beauty in investing in communities and bringing benefits to community members and their interests.
Do you have any words of advice for future members and fellows?
I’d advise that they try to get the most out of their terms of AmeriCorps service and work as fellows. It creates a phenomenal foundation to build on after.
Lighting Round Questions
What’s the last book you read?
Memphis by Tara Stringfellow, and I’m currently reading Cicely Tyson’s memoir.
What are you currently watching?
I’m catching up on Winning Time and I recently started We Own This City.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
If COVID wasn’t a worry I’d go anywhere. But Bali or Rome would definitely be dream destinations.
What was the last concert you attended?
I haven’t been to a true concert since before the pandemic. But last summer I attended a candlelight jazz tribute to Duke Ellington.
What hobbies keep you going or have you picked up any hobbies during the pandemic?
Reading and yoga keeps me going. I’ve done both before the pandemic but I definitely attend yoga classes less now. I’ve picked up nature walks since the pandemic, and even explored new parks that I haven’t been to before. I intentionally started to binge watch 90s and 00s sitcoms for the nostalgia of the time before COVID.