While many graduating seniors at Grand Valley are frantically hunting for jobs, Tyler Nickerson is not breaking a sweat. Just one semester shy of graduation, Nickerson, a double major in political science and public and nonprofit administration, accepted a position as the affordable housing advocate for the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness.
Nickerson expected to continue to graduate school, but said he couldn’t pass up this offer. After completing an internship in community organizing with the Eastown Community Association, the Zeeland native heard about an opening with the coalition.
"I've always had an interest in government and community development based on my education and past experiences," said Nickerson. "I wasn’t sure where this opportunity would lead me."
The coalition was created in 2004 as a project of the City of Grand Rapids, Kent County, and many community partners to move from managing to ending homelessness by creating access to affordable, permanent housing.
Nickerson’s role is to ensure that there is an adequate stock of affordable, accessible, and quality homes for low-income families. Nickerson also represents the coalition in legislative and community development discussions.
"There is both an economic and justice argument to how a permanent place to live provides a person with a sense of stability," said Nickerson. "Stable housing is the first step to addressing other problems."
As one of the youngest professionals in an interesting dynamic of community representatives, Nickerson has had the opportunity to propose new ideas with prominent community leaders and decision makers.
"I feel like my professors at Grand Valley prepared me well for this transition by providing a mix of applicable and theoretical knowledge in the classroom," said Nickerson.
Nickerson, who will graduate in May 2010, plans to stay with the coalition after graduation. In the future, he plans to pursue community development opportunities while remaining in the Grand Rapids area.
by Heather DeWitt