Alumni & Students Blog

Keep up with stories highlighting some of the professional, academic and fun adventures of our CDA Alumni and Current Students!

This blog will be updated with profiles of CDA alumni and current students, newsworthy updates, and other information relevant to the program. Whether you want to keep in touch with the program or just learn more about what real students and alumni are up to, we want this to be a more personal point of connection to CDA.

All content here is written, edited, and published by current CDA students.  Questions about the blog or about CDA? Contact Anna Warren at anna.m.warren@vanderbilt.edu

For more news, check out our Facebook page and Instagram account (@vanderbiltcda).

And if you’re a prospective student, follow this link to apply to CDA today!

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CDA Student Wins Curb Center Award

Emily Habeck is a professional student pursuing dual professional degrees in CDA and Theological Studies. Habeck, now in her third year, is completing a practicum with the Metro Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts) where she is producing ethnographic research on local artists funded by THRIVE. THRIVE is a Metro Arts fund that “connects artists and...... KEEP READING

Posted by on November 30, 2020 in Current Students, Final Projects and Theses, Practicum


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HOD Returns Home

Lynn Hastings and Donna Smith have both been working at Peabody College for 7 years. Lynn, the Administrative Officer for HOD, has been with Vanderbilt for 15 years. Donna, a Vanderbilt employee for the past 33 years, is the business operations manager. As part of the administrative team, both are tasked with providing general support...... KEEP READING

Posted by on October 31, 2020 in Mayborn


Maryam Rehman

Practicum Spotlight: Class of 2021

All CDA students are required to complete 300 practicum hours before graduating. Most students begin their practicum placements in the spring semester of their first year. As the 2021 CDA cohort begin their placements, we wanted to highlight the range and depth of their experiences!   Below are interview responses from three CDA Class of 2021 students....... KEEP READING

Posted by on March 31, 2020 in Current Students, Practicum


Alumni Spotlight

CDA Alumni Spotlight: Recent Publications

CDA alums across the country may all be working on various issues but they all leave with the same set of durable Vanderbilt skills. As an interdisciplinary program, CDA ensures graduates are prepared for their next steps by grounding their education in rigorous academic study. Below are some examples of ways that alums have used...... KEEP READING

Posted by on March 5, 2020 in Alumni


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Spring 2019 Projects and Theses

CDA students are required to complete, at a minimum, 30 hours of coursework, 300 hours of practicum work, and one of two final assessment options: a master’s thesis or a final project. The master’s thesis is an experience in independent scholarly research which is intended to contribute to the field of community development. The final project integrates...... KEEP READING

Posted by on May 6, 2019 in Final Projects and Theses,


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Meet an Alumnus: Brendan O’Connor

 Brendan O’Connor, M.Ed. 2012 Senior Organizer and Grantwriter, Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your background? Where you are from originally and what did you do before you came to Vanderbilt? I grew up in Staunton, a small town in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. I...... KEEP READING

Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Alumni,


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CDA Entrepreneurs: Amy and Jessica of Elevate Consulting

Recently, several alumni of our program have utilized the skills they gained in human and organizational development in new ways—by starting their own businesses. Some of those include Amy Merritt Campbell (M.Ed. ’14) and Jessica Benton (M.Ed. ’13) of Elevate Consulting. Here’s what they, along with cofounder Hannah Wohltjen (MA, MPH), have to say about their business...... KEEP READING

Posted by on January 8, 2019 in Alumni,


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CDA Student Spotlight: Jordan Jurinsky

Jordan Jurinksy B.S. Sociology Q: Where are you from originally and what did you do before Vanderbilt?  I spent most of my childhood living in small town named Maryville right outside of Knoxville in east Tennessee, but I’ve also lived in North Carolina, Colorado, California, Texas, Florida, and Nagoya, Japan. Immediately prior to coming to...... KEEP READING

Posted by on November 25, 2018 in Current Students,


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CDA Entrepreneur: Dawn Harris of Tree of Life Education Center

Recently, several alumni of our program have utilized the skills they gained in human and organizational development in new ways—by starting their own businesses. One of those includes Dawn Harris (M.Ed. ’16) of Tree of Life Education Center. Here’s what she has to say about her business and the path she took to get there: “The CDA program taught me the...... KEEP READING

Posted by on November 2, 2018 in Alumni,


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2018 Final Projects

Of the 2018 CDA graduates, 5 completed a project for their final assessments. These projects, designed and conducted within an organizational or community context, integrate core philosophy, coursework, and field experience of the Community Development & Action program. Accompanied by a final document and presentation, the final projects account for a minimum of 100 hours of...... KEEP READING

Posted by on May 7, 2018 in Current Students, Final Projects and Theses, ,


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2018 Theses

Of the 2018 CDA graduates, three completed theses for their final assessments. These intensive, independent research projects covered a wide range of scholarly interests that intend to contribute to the field of community development. This year’s completed master’s theses are described below. Lauren Baer Foster Care for Teenagers: Motivators, Barriers, and Strategies to Overcome Barriers Forty-three...... KEEP READING

Posted by on May 7, 2018 in Current Students, Final Projects and Theses, ,


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Meet an Alumnus: Geordie Brackin

Geordie Brackin, M.Ed. 2010 Director of Global Innovation, Bridge International Academies “I came to the CDA program having themed interests in education and community-building, but not knowing what my path would be. I’ve now been living abroad and working in international education for the past 6 years and I owe that to the experiences I...... KEEP READING

Posted by on April 9, 2018 in Alumni,


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Meet an Alumna: Sarah Imran

M.Ed. 2017 Director of Policy and Research, Metro Human Relations Commission “The CDA program provided an excellent balance of structure through core courses, as well as freedom to carve out our own unique paths.” Q: Where are you from originally and what did you do before coming to Vanderbilt? I am originally from Islamabad, Pakistan,...... KEEP READING

Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Alumni,


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Meet an Alumna: Gabby Flynn

Gabriella Flynn  M.Ed. 2015 Program Coordinator, Columbia University Medical Center, Program for Global and Population Health “The way that CDA prepares you to be a reflective, generative practitioner who works with the community interests in mind is something that is invaluable to my work now as a researcher.” Q: Where are you from originally and...... KEEP READING

Posted by on February 2, 2018 in Alumni,


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Meet an Alumnus: Courtney Williams

M.Ed. 2011 Dillard University, Director of Student Engagement and Leadership “I rely a lot on my training with CDA, helping students to see the college as the community that they should develop.” Q: To begin, can you tell me a little bit about your background? Where you are from originally and how did you end...... KEEP READING

Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Alumni,


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