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Michelle Eley
The fast-paced, ever-changing environment of my job constantly challenges me to learn new things, develop new skills, and work effectively with people.

Profile: Michelle Eley

Alumni
Community and Economic Development Extension Specialist

Serving people and helping them find answers that work using resource-based information is a favorite among job responsibilities for Michelle Eley, a graduate in agricultural and consumer economics and community rural studies.

“When I can provide information that allows people to improve the quality of their lives, that is the best reward,” Michelle says. “The fast-paced, ever-changing environment of my job constantly challenges me to learn new things, develop new skills, and work effectively with people.”

As a community and economic development extension specialist and the interim co-program leader for the agriculture, natural resource, and community resource development unit at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Cooperative Extension Program, Michelle assesses needs, issues, and trends at statewide, regional, and national levels. She also provides leadership to the state extension strategic planning council that gauges and reports community issues to be addressed.

Michelle says that being adaptable and maintaining a positive attitude have been keys to her career success. Opportunities in the College of ACES helped her build a network of colleagues and connections that supports her work with the public and with leaders in local communities.

“As a graduate student, I had a great experience working with University of Illinois Extension,” Michelle says. “When I started my doctoral program, I managed a community survey lab for community and economic development for nearly three years, so I received a lot of on-the-job training in survey research. From that experience and others, I’ve established long-term friendships with people who have remained in Extension.”

Michelle was also a summer counselor with the College of ACES Research Apprentice Program for three years, working with high school students from underrepresented groups. These wide-ranging opportunities provided her a lot of hands-on and real-world experience.

“Matriculating through any graduate program can take lots of hard work,” Michelle says. “I am appreciative having received two degrees from U of I. Apart from that, I relish in the fact that I have crossed paths with some wonderful people there. Overall, the various relationships I formed made my experience at U of I most enjoyable. Those people are some of my closest and dearest friends today.”