Tracy Lytwyn Fischer ’12

Tracy Lytwyn '12 at the Indiana Statehouse for ACS CAN's Day at the Capitol.

Tracy Lytwyn ’12 at the Indiana Statehouse for ACS CAN’s Day at the Capitol.

Year of Graduation: 2012

Major: Political Science, Business Administration, and Religion

Current Address: Carmel, Indiana

How were you engaged with ARC? Not just the seminar/internship/fellowship but describe the type of project.

I did a lot of miscellaneous projects as an ARC intern since I was not interning for a specific organization. I conducted a survey for the Bloomington Farmer’s Market to assess what type of people used its resources and how they used them. I also wrote press releases and invitations to publicize events with the Ecology Action Center, and I helped guide a focus group for a YWCA fundraiser. On top of that, I was a part of the development of a city internship seminar for IWU students, which later became an actual program. The following year, I was a student in a grant writing seminar, in which I wrote two grants for Milestones Early Learning Center.

Where are you now?

I currently work with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network – the advocacy branch of the American Cancer Society. My title is senior specialist of media advocacy, which means I use the media to help pass cancer-fighting laws in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. This involves writing media materials like press releases, op/eds, scripts and statements; assisting with grassroots efforts by helping volunteers write letters to the editor or using their cancer stories for news features; training and educating spokespeople to talk to the media about our key issues; working with reporters to identify story opportunities; managing social media for all three states; and integrating media strategies into legislative campaign plans. That’s just a brief overview of my work! I do everything I can to get the media to pay attention to our issues and put pressure on lawmakers to pass legislation that helps cancer patients. It’s an incredible feeling when I open up my laptop in the morning, start reading the news and see our spokespeople getting our message across to readers. That makes a huge impact in our mission to make real change in State Capitols and Washington D.C.

Where did ARC take you professionally? Are you doing work that connects back to ARC in some way?

When I graduated from IWU, I thought that I would end up working in government. In fact, I worked as a press secretary for the Indiana State Senate for two years. But I didn’t really feel as fulfilled as I wanted to feel in my career. So I thought back to my time with ARC, when I was able to see first-hand the positive impact my work was making. And how I was working with people who really, truly cared about what they were doing and were thrilled to be doing it. And then I thought about the issues I really cared about and how I could be using my career to make a difference in these causes. Cancer was at the top of my list, since my mom is currently battling cancer. As fate would have it, I came across this job opening with ACS CAN and said to myself, “Oh my gosh. This is it. This is what I have to do with my life.”

Where did ARC take you personally? Are you engaged in community work that is ARC-like?

It really helped me see that I could take the causes I was passionate about and turn them into careers. Before I started working at ACS CAN, I had been volunteering for organizations like The Humane Society and Adopt a U.S. Soldier, but it wasn’t enough for me. So instead of trying to fit in volunteer work after I left work for the day, I just turned that passion into a full-time job.

Did ARC teach you what we were supposed to teach you? Did we teach you anything that was a surprise or outside of the learning objectives?

ARC gave me a realistic look at how non-profit organizations operate. It didn’t hide any of the setbacks that these organizations face (funding, staffing, red tape, etc.) so students were given the full ARC experience. Having this perspective really helped me transition into non-profit work from my previous job, which was a bigger change than I expected. It also helped me better understand the other non-profits that ACS CAN works with and find ways we can put together our resources toward our common cause.

Share a great memory about ARC/IWU.

I love coming back to IWU as an alum and seeing the changes on campus from year to year. My first homecoming as an alum, Dr. Simeone and Dr. Shaw showed me around The Peace Garden, which I was absolutely in love with. It inspired me so much that I helped my church when it decided to create its own community garden! I never expected to continue to be inspired by students at my alma mater, but it seems that every time I hear about Titans doing great work in the community, I get a big smile on my face and want to get out there and do something.

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