Anne Fisher-Henson ’24 (political science), a native of northern Appalachia, is studying—and enacting—community- and economic-development initiatives in rural Pennsylvania. Below, she discusses her three targeted internships, including one with the Newville Economic Authority (Newville, Pennsylvania) and another in her hometown, developing and expanding children’s-literacy programs while learning about how nonprofit organizations work and building valuable connections with mentors. She’s also taken independent-study courses and researched economic development in Appalachia.
Clubs and organizations:
Center for Civic Learning & Action (Carlisle Borough student-ambassador) and Dickinson Christian Fellowship.
Baird Sustainability Fellow candidate, Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society, Benjamin Rush Scholarship, Al and Julia Small Scholarship and Dean’s List.
Is There Life Out There?
Best thing about my major:
The flexibility it provides to pursue personalized opportunities, such as independent studies. My academic interests center on community and economic development, and these independent studies have made it possible for me to focus both my major and certificate courses on this topic. This semester I’m taking State and Local Government with Associate Professor of Political Science Sarah Niebler and Sustainable Business Practices for Place-Based Entrepreneurship with Senior Lecturer in International Business & Management Steve Riccio.
Favorite place on campus:
The Academic Quad.
Introduction to Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship with Associate Provost and CCLA/Clarke Forum Executive Director Gary Kirk. In this course, we studied the role of systems theory in the creation of sustainable communities. My research examined economic development in central Appalachia, and I had the opportunity to interview Donna Daniels, executive director of the Brushy Fork Institute at Berea College in southeastern Kentucky. As a resident of northern Appalachia, it was inspiring to learn about the localized initiatives that Brushy Fork has facilitated through partnerships with community leaders within the region.
There have been so many! I will forever be grateful for my former advisor, Associate Professor of International Business and Management Michael Fratantuono. As my first-year advisor, he was an incredible mentor in my transition to Dickinson. Also to my current advisor, Professor of Political Science Jim Hoefler, who introduced me to the political-science department and my previous internship with the Newville Economic Development Authority. And a huge shout out to Associate Professor of Sociology Dan Schubert for supervising my first independent study.
As I kid, I wanted to be …
… an architect. I would read every issue of Country Living Magazine for inspiration (and I still do!).
About my internships:
I have been blessed with three internship opportunities in the field of community and economic development. The summer before my first year at Dickinson, I began an internship with the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce (JRVCC) in order to learn more about small-business development. Over the course of a year I was introduced to the business network in my home county, which is full of passionate entrepreneurs and countless other community doers! Not to mention the ladies of the JRVCC and the Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau, who taught me that community development begins with community building—think entrepreneurial meet-ups and (of course) Goose Day!
Last semester, I interned with the Newville Economic Development Authority (EDA). During this internship, I participated in planning two inaugural events with members of the EDA and Newville Borough—the EDA’s annual meeting and the Waterwheel 5K and Festival on the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. Each of these events introduced me to business professionals throughout Cumberland County who have been invaluable mentors (always say “yes” to an informational interview!). For the conclusion of my internship, I worked with an intern from Big Spring High School to launch Newville Business Spotlights, a social-media campaign centered around interviews with local small-business owners. This internship had community building at its heart; I absolutely loved getting to know Newville and the incredible people who call it home. And I would definitely recommend a trip to the Newville Trailhead!
My internship with the Rothrock Community Library in McVeytown, Pennsylvania, was made possible by Dickinson’s internship grant [through the Chris and Emily Cocores Family Internship Fund]. My sister and I launched the youth program at the Rothrock Community Library in 2019, and this internship has given me the opportunity to not only expand the children’s library but also learn about the role of nonprofit organizations in community development. In June we opened registration for our 2022 summer-reading program, Read Beyond the Beaten Path, inspired by Dr. Joseph T. Rothrock, the founder of forestry in Pennsylvania and a local McVeytonian. Since then, I have created a quarterly e-newsletter for the library and begun to design a walking tour brochure of McVeytown that corresponds to the summer-reading program and honors our local history. I believe that community development should be a realization of the resources already rooted in our communities, and this internship has shown me just how deep those roots are.
Above all, I value these internships for the people I have met and the relationships I have built with so many innovative community leaders throughout central Pa.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …
… Reba McEntire!
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
God is faithful. I have an amazing Christian community that constantly uplifts me, from my home church to Dickinson Christian Fellowship, Carlisle Alliance Church and New Life Community Church. These communities are constant reminders that there is purpose and provision in every season.
Advice for younger students:
Create opportunities for yourself that are true to who you are. And then hold open the door for others to follow. My interest in community development is specific to rural America, but academic discussion on the topic is limited in the liberal-arts context. In order to pursue this interest, I have developed multiple independent studies and experiential learning opportunities embedded in rural communities. Today I am surrounded by knowledgeable mentors at work in this field and hope to offer the same support to other students.
Read more Student Snapshots.
Published December 13, 2022