Eboni Stevens '15 saw the disconnect between social classes here in Richmond.
After her third year at Earlham, she saw education as the key and she and four friends set out to make a change.
“We organized a nonprofit entitled the Youth Improvement Movement (YIM),” Stevens says. “Right now we are going through the logistics of making it a registered 501c3.”
In July, YIM organized an event that targeted middle school students who wanted to attend college. The event was at the Townsend Center and featured sessions about self-image, financing college, bullying, drug abuse and more.
“We are planning another event, but we are working more closely with Richmond High School. There’s a big disconnect between the haves and the have nots here in Richmond, and we wanted to address this. Kids with resources know about these things, and they go to college and don’t come back. The kids who don’t know these things feel stuck here.”
As a senior, she is anxious to get the nonprofit up and running. After graduation, Stevens wants to participate in Morioka Assistant Language Teaching (MALT) for two years before going for an MBA.
“In MALT, I will be assisting a teacher at a middle school,” says Stevens, who recently returned from Japan, where she participated in Earlham’s semester-long study in Morioka. The program is called Studies in Cross Cultural Education (SICE) and focuses on learning about Japan by participating in a Japanese community, including serving as an English teaching assistant.
Her fascination with Japan began while she was in elementary school.
“Students who exchanged to Earlham from Waseda were teaching at my elementary school, and it captivated me,” she remembers. “I loved that the language is so completely different, and the culture fascinates me. My appreciation has only deepened since coming to Earlham.”
Stevens has a major in Comparative Languages and Linguistics and has focused on Spanish and Japanese and a minor in Business and Nonprofit Management. Friends and family encouraged her toward teaching or translating, which didn’t seem right.
“I have always liked strategy and figuring out problems through strategy,” she says. “I took a business course and realized the importance of strategy in business. Now I want to do strategic management in international business and go back and forth between countries.
“I am already homesick for Japan. I became very close with my host family and have made plans to travel to Europe in two years with my host sister,” she says.
In addition to her studies and creating the nonprofit, Stevens is manager for the women’s basketball and she is a McNair Scholar, which is designed to prepare students who have traditionally been underrepresented in graduate studies for graduate work leading to a Ph.D.
“For my McNair summer project, I did research on the Japanese business culture, and the way it affects the way business is conducted,” she explains. “It is customary in Japanese culture to take the time to invest and develop all relationships including business relationships, and some American companies just don’t get it. It’s like courting in that it is a long process, but once the relationship is established, it is lifelong.”
Stevens interned at the International Center this past summer through Earlham’s Center for Integrated Learning’s Pathways initiative. Her responsibilities included helping make preparations, including researching behaviors and etiquette, for international delegations that were visiting Indianapolis.