Written by: Colin Kulpa
One of the O’Neill School’s defining characteristics is providing high-quality, hands-on learning experiences to its students. From research opportunities to community-based projects to its many internship opportunities, one fellowship stands out for its ability to connect students with experiences and even careers after they earn their degrees.
The Peterson Fellowship is a three-semester fellowship providing financial support for talented O’Neill graduate students to gain experience with the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, IndyGo, and Indianapolis International Airport.
Ted Field received the Peterson Fellowship while completing his MPA at the O’Neill School in Indianapolis. He started his journey as a Peterson Fellow with the Indianapolis Airport Authority, the body overseeing the airport, then moved to the mayor’s office. In the summer of 2023, he finished his time at IndyGo, the public transportation authority in Indianapolis.
“It has been really phenomenal for me to try my hand at a bunch of different things,” said Field. “Right now, I’m spearheading a customer perception survey IndyGo hopes to roll out sometime next year. So far, I’ve been responsible for creating the scope of work and developing a pilot program so that we can test it and make sure that it’s going to work.”
In his stops across the Circle City, his hands-on experience went beyond what was offered in the classroom, all in complementary ways.
Field dipped his hands in photography and videography while with the airport authority, producing work that would end up in their “decade of excellence” video project.
At the mayor’s office, he worked primarily with the education team, reviewing applications for new charter schools in the city. He conducted research and analysis and was a part of the interview process these schools require.
Field’s fellowship allowed him to diversify his education with distinct learning opportunities unique to the fellowship, which have taken him beyond what he could learn in the classroom.
“To be able to take the concepts that I was learning in class, use my experiences at these places to talk about how things worked in my class to bring that experience there, it was really neat,” said Field.
His fellowship experience paid off in the classroom, too, when it came time for his cohort’s capstone project.
“Instead of writing a paper, our capstone group decided to do a video,” Field said. “We worked with the organization Indiana Vote by Mail. Because I was able to gather some of the experience doing videography at the airport, the group was on board with trying to do something a little bit outside the box and different, and something that honestly scared us a little bit going into it because it wasn’t the security blanket of writing a paper, but we were able to pull that off and feel pretty good about it.”
While he isn’t sure what’s next, Ted knows he wants to help improve his community. If anything, the Peterson Fellowship opened so many doors he will have a tough time choosing which one to walk through.
“The goal with going back to grad school and doing this program in general was to cast a wide net and allow me the opportunity to say yes to multiple opportunities, which is what the Peterson fellowship has allowed me to do in tandem with that,” Field said. “If the Peterson fellowship has shown me anything it is that there are so many different possibilities that most people don’t even know exist.”
To learn more about the Peterson Fellowship, visit this link.