Aisha White is in her second year of her completion of a PhD at Iowa State University. She is getting her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies, a multidisciplinary program.
"I decided to pursue it because it was something I've always wanted to do," she said. "I really like school and I always liked the idea of being able to teach as a professor. It was just a matter of timing and it's a good time to do it now."
Aisha has a BA in Psychology and got a Masters degree in Social Work at the University of Iowa.
I have had a lot of support both within and outside of my family," she said. My experience at the University of Iowa was great. I stay connected with the people at Iowa. I think that says a lot about the support they give to their students."
Aisha is a research assistant quarter time and a teaching assistant quarter time at Iowa State University.
"I really enjoy what I am doing it because I am very interested in teaching and research, so I feel very lucky to have an opportunity to do both," she said.
Aisha's research interest is in the academic identity development of African American girls and the contributors of the mother daughter attachment relationship. She is also interested in racial ethnic identity and gender identity formation.
Along with her studies at Iowa State, Aisha is also working on a Masters degree in Public Administration. She said that her long-term goal is to be doing a variety of things, like she is doing now.
"I have a lot of interests so I want the opportunity to do a lot of different things in my future," she said.
Adela Martinez began working at the place2b in October 2010. She quickly realized it was the best 'place to be' for her to help those she wanted to help the most.
Laid off from her eleven-year job as director of a truancy, homeless and safe schools program, Adela vigorously searched for a job and was left unemployed for four months before she was offered a job at the place2b, a "safe-haven for our community's youth" based in Rock Island, Illinois.
Raised by her grandparents and taking care of her runaway sister at 23, Adela was not new to the reality of homelessness.
"It was kind of ironic that I ended up helping homeless youth" she said. "But my experiences ended up giving me a lot of perspective for my job."
The place2b is considered a "drop-in center," where homeless youth can visit from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center provides a variety of services including housing assistance, emergency food and counseling. The center also helps the youth prepare for their future with career exploration, job and interview training and through teaching life and vocational skills.
Adela said the center has served 27 youth so far, the majority being boys.
"Each youth is different but a common thread with each one is the lack of understanding why they are not getting along with their parents and why people aren't more helpful," she said. Another common thread I see is a lot of grief and trauma. These things really impede their productivity and their growth."
Adela said the center has people who come in regularly and new people coming in each day. The center recently had visitors from Arkansas and California, a sure sign that the center is getting exposure not only in the Quad Cities, but in other communities as well.
"The community has been extremely helpful, "she said. "And our volunteers are so loyal and committed to the kids. It's a good example of what a community project should be."
Adela's future plans for the center include building a computer lab and a kitchen. The program is always in need of donations of money, food, household and personal care items and school supplies. The center is located at 1600 2nd Ave, Rock Island, IL Phone: 309-786-2030. For more information contact Adela at