While many Bradley students become engulfed in the magic of the “Bradley Bubble,” some make an effort to connect with the surrounding area.
Senior public relations major Misa Nagase has a long history in impacting the Peoria community. She currently works as an intern for the city of Peoria Community Development Department and is using her senior capstone project to enhance neighborhoods.
“Basically, capstone is you have to implement a fully actualized, research-driven [public relations] campaign within a semester,” Nagase said. “What we’re doing is focusing on the lack of youth participation within neighborhood associations. Youth engagement has been something the city has been really trying to push the past couple of years, but they couldn’t figure out what route to do it.”
Nagase, along with team members Meghan Anderson, Kristin Drew and Kyle Powers set out to create West Bluff HomeSpace, Peoria’s first youth neighborhood organization. Nagase is the team’s non-profit liaison, Drew works as development coordinator, Anderson serves as media manager and Powers is the team’s for-profit liaison.
“[Nagase is] super knowledgeable about neighborhood organizations [and] associations and everything that goes into creating one, and she’s also been able to connect us with a lot of great resources through her network of professionals within the city,” senior public relations major Drew said. “We definitely wouldn’t have been able to make this project a success without Misa on our team.”
The four students visited Quest Academy High School and Peoria Central High School, along with talking to community leaders, in order to gain interest and participation. The first meeting of the organization will be held on April 30.
“We’ve done almost all of our outreach,” Nagase said. “We’re excited for the event. We’ll have a lot of community leaders present, but we’re really trying to get kids there since that’s really the point of it.”
Nagase has worked on other community projects through her internship. Last summer, citizens had the opportunity to paint a tile for “My Piece of Peoria,” a community mural that will be up this summer.
“People from Chicago or St. Louis would laugh at Peoria being a big city, but it’s big enough for there to still be a vibrant community but small enough that working in a position in city government feels very productive because there’s enough people that you can get a lot of work done,” Nagase said. “It’s super easy to get caught up in the ‘Bradley Bubble,’ but I feel very fortunate that my internship has allowed me to see what the city of Peoria is like. I think before working at the city, I would have never even considered staying in Peoria. I’m still not sure if I want to do that, but it definitely seems the more you get to know it, the better city it is.”