The Black History Month 2018 theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honors the roles that black Americans have played in warfare, from the American Revolution to the present day. We feature alumna and service member Coretta McAllister.
By Adriene Davis Kalugyer
What do a military career and a passion for philanthropy have in common? A lot, according to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Coretta McAllister, B.A. ’15.
Service is a central theme in McAllister’s life, infusing her military, professional, and volunteer roles.
“I’ve always been interested in helping others,” she says. Initially, a medical career seemed to be her purpose, but “I realized that I wanted to provide hope and instill humanistic values into all people at the communal level. Especially, those less fortunate.”
“I first became interested in philanthropic studies when I met my professor, Dr. Genevieve Shaker, in the ‘Giving in America’ class. I was instantly transitioned into the field of giving,” McAllister says.
She adds that the course, which is open to all IUPUI undergraduates, helped her decide to pursue her bachelor’s degree in philanthropic studies because she “believed in the program’s purpose to highlight the importance of philanthropy and to recognize the use of its power in all communities.”
Military and philanthropic service go hand in hand, McAllister says. “A core leadership value of being a soldier is selfless service. As a soldier, my duty is service to others and to my country. My work in philanthropy has supported this role by providing insight and tangible experience with the American people who I vowed to serve.”
McAllister works as the community outreach and volunteer management VISTA for Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, where she’s responsible for developing and implementing the One Love Louisville Ambassador Program.
“The work is time consuming yet rewarding,” she says. “I like being a VISTA because it’s another way to serve. The Ambassador Program takes a public health approach to violence prevention. I’m able to connect with people (in ways) that give them hope and give me an innate sense of satisfaction, which is that ‘GIFT’ that we talk about in philanthropic studies. My degree has helped me in my current role because I can recognize the existence and importance of the interconnected giving within the community.”
Last May, McAllister graduated from Campbellsville University with her Master of Social Work degree. She plans to obtain her CSW and apply to an Army Social Work Internship Program that will equip her to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She will then be an active duty soldier working as an LCSW. She also plans to either start her own nonprofit or serve on the boards of nonprofit organizations.
“One of my philanthropic studies classmates always said that he wanted to just spread love. The way we have used our degrees is to do just that … to spread love,” McAllister said. “Philanthropic studies has provided me with the necessary background to take that love into the community and exude that belief that ‘love can be spread’ and will work.”
Adriene Davis Kalugyer is the manager of public affairs for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.