Allison Gress

Allison Gress’ research opportunity fuels her passion of advocating for kids

Allison Gress lived in Las Vegas, New York City, and Munich while searching for a city and institution that would be the right size and educational fit for her. Allison found her way to Iowa State University and hasn’t wanted to leave since. 

“My brother-in-law is doing his Ph.D. program here, and he kept talking about how awesome the school was, and I wasn’t buying it,” Allison said. “Until I came. And he was right.”

It was when she transferred to Iowa State that she truly discovered her future path, and her professors played a huge role in helping her make this realization. Now, her dream job is lobbying and advocating for children with a specialization in preventing maltreatment. 

Allison is currently a senior in child, adult, and family services who has earned a 2019 Louise Rosenfeld Undergraduate Research Internship. But she wasn’t without her doubts when applying for the internship.

“I had no idea what was going to happen,” said Allison. “I just thought, ‘why not? It can’t hurt.’”

Once she got the internship, Allison was more than ready to get started on her research with Early Childhood Iowa, a network of state and community partners that aims to help children fully engage in learning opportunities.

“We are trying to find the gaps and overlaps of children that are currently receiving services, if they are receiving more than one service at a time, and those who need services that are not receiving them,” Allison said. 

“I am working on a great team with some amazing people, collecting data and transforming the data into policy briefs to actively help suggest and encourage change in order to reach and support the maximum amount of children from birth to five years old in Iowa.”

Allison’s research for the Rosenfeld internship is another step toward her career ambitions, as it provides her with a platform to draft policy briefs and work to improve the lives of children.

“I was always the little kid who stood up for the other little kids in school,” she said. “I want to be a lobbyist against child maltreatment. I want to give those kids who don’t have a voice a voice.”

Allison said that being fulfilled and making a difference are major motivators for her and her work.

“The possible impact this research is going to have on the entire state is amazing,” said Allison. “It’s exciting that we are actually doing something to improve the lives of the children here.”