Former Students’ Institute participant, now Jean O’Connor-Snyder intern, Jessie Evans reflects on her first few months administering the Students’ Institute program. 

Hello, everyone! I am Jessie Evans, a Jean O’Connor-Snyder Intern and a freshman at the University of Montevallo. I mainly work with the Montevallo Junior City Council as well as Students’ Institute. As one of the participants of the first Students’ Institute and several since then, I have a unique perspective running this year’s program.  

Students’ Institute opened up a completely different mindset for me. I no longer thought that I as a youth could not change and better my community.


A large part of what Students’ Institute is about is learning what it means to be an active citizen and what the youth can do to better the community. During the first Students’ Institute in December of 2012, we planned out ideas for what we wanted in the city. The following Spring, we held three community forums, gathering input on the pros and cons of our ideas. By the end of these forums, however, many of the participants in Students’ Institute felt like we should do a little bit more and take action with our ideas. Thus, the Montevallo Junior City Council was created. Each year after, Students’ Institute grew and became more involved with all ages of the community. We planned projects and would present them at a showcase, and eventually put them into action. Students’ Institute and MJCC became a huge part of my life and helped me become a more involved citizen. 

Students’ Institute opened up a completely different mindset for me. I no longer thought that I as a youth could not change and better my community. I realized that the youth should have as much say as adults on the future of our city, and that’s the opportunity that Students’ Institute provides. I was ecstatic when I learned that my main job as a JOIP intern was to lead Students’ Institute. I remembered how I felt working with other students to come up with ideas of what could help the city, and now I was able to see the behind-the-scenes of Students’ Institute.

I’ve been a part of Students’ Institute since the beginning, and it is so different being on the administrative side of things. I’ve set up meetings with the teachers that are over the program at each school, reserved locations for the program, created a schedule, and set up dates for future sessions. In the next year, I will be helping the youth come up with their own ideas that they will present to their friends, family, and the Montevallo Junior City Council, who will then present to the city council and put the ideas into action. I get to lead these kids in that direction, and I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to do this.

-Jessie Evans, 2018-19 Jean O’Connor-Snyder Intern 

To learn more about the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program(JOIP), or its partnership with the University of Montevallo, contact the program coordinator Rebecca Cleveland at or the University of Montevallo’s faculty mentor Dr. Hollie Cost at