erick-teo-abrego-profile-picture image


Engagement Fellow for Empowerment3
Contact Info

Erick Teo-Abrego is from Madison County, VA, and graduated from JMU in May 2023 with a Bachelor of
Science. He was the first of his family to attend JMU, and as a first-generation college student, he felt
anxious to step into the unfamiliar but ready to reach his goal of educational prosperity. While his college
experience was not traditional due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, he came back to JMU as a 3rd year, ready
to make a change in the community at a time when everyone was coming back from isolation. He saw
that what the community needed was a way to reconnect and move towards a new semblance of
normal. With this goal of impacting the community, Erick joined the Empowerment3 Center for Physical
Activity and Wellness for the Underserved as a mentor.

While at Empowerment3 and under the guidance of his mentor and Director of E3, Dr. Thomas Moran,
Erick was able to take on new leadership. He became a valued team member, using his unique skills,
culture, and ideas to reestablish the connection Empowerment3 he had with the Valley before COVID.
With his aptitude for Spanish and drive to reach others, Erick was able to bridge the information gap
between E3 and the growing Spanish-speaking community, increasing not only participant numbers but
also E3’s exposure to other communities in Harrisonburg. With his knowledge of exercise science and his
ideals of training ability rather than focusing on disability, Erick was able to guide these populations
through physical activity programs of his design via one-on-one mentorship. Through his efforts, Erick
contributed valuable research data for Empowerment3, leading to significant grant funding from
National Foundations and overall Empowerment3 expansion.

When he is not leading programs or in the Empowerment3 Office, Erick enjoys taking life slow
and exploring nature. He enjoys staying grounded, walking trails, and seeing what fish bite his
lines, but he also dabbles in the unknown by looking up at the stars with his telescope

Position Overview

Empowerment3 (E3) is the Center for Physical Activity and Wellness for the Underserved. Our center's programming, research, training, and support services empower individuals and their families, professionals (pre-service and in-service), and communities through physical activity, nutrition, one-on-one mentorship, and social connection. E3's efforts engage, educate, equip, and empower two populations through authentic learning opportunities: underserved populations in our community and JMU students seeking purpose and career readiness opportunities. E3 provides specialized and inclusive interventions for children and adults with disabilities, older adults, English language learners, refugees, and at-risk youth. E3 serves the JMU community by providing weekly one-on-one mentorship and program co-lead opportunities for over 200 students each semester.

Authentic academic and professional growth are at the heart of E3’s mission as we provide service learning, training, and often career awareness opportunities for current Dukes. The Presidential Fellow will serve as Empowerment3's Director of Outreach and Holistic Health, and empowerment3's director of training and impact will supervise the fellow. The engagement fellow will support several student and community engagement initiatives.

Mission, Vision, and Values Statement
Engaged Learning: Empowerment3 (E3) mission aligns with the university's mission of engaged learning. E3 provides purposeful learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students from 25 academic programs across campus who serve as one-on-one mentors and program leaders each semester. These experiences allow students to apply their acquired knowledge as they engage alongside and support participants from underserved populations. These service learning and leadership roles require students to reflect on their current knowledge or skill gaps that may lead to the unmet needs of participants. In their position, the fellow will determine the ideal attributes, knowledge, and skill sets students should have to be successful as a 1:1 mentor for participants from underserved populations. This reflection will challenge E3 to evaluate our training and support model.

Additionally, E3 has recently received funding to conduct our community-based interventions statewide and nationally, which triples the number of mentors and program leads we will need each semester. The fellow will be vital in recruiting students and getting them excited about the engaged learning opportunities, both within or outside their discipline or interests.

Community Engagement: The E3 center has used a community engagement model since being founded in 2012. The fellow will engage with existing community partners and play a key role in recruiting new partners. E3 seeks community partners who can expand our reach into underserved communities or implementation partners who want to offer inclusive programming. Partner engagement will help the fellow understand and appreciate the challenges facing underserved populations and their families, challenges facing community wellness instructors and organizations, or the challenges JMU students face early in their academic journey. The fellow will learn about E3’s Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) which provides a voice for our underserved populations, their families, caregivers, 1:1 mentors, instructors, and advocates. Each stakeholder is a member of the research team and shares input throughout the research process. For example, E3’s interventions seek to improve physical and emotional health and quality of life for participants, caregivers, and mentors. The fellow will play a key role in collecting our pre, weekly, and post-data to see firsthand how our interventions mutually benefit participants, JMU students, and the communities. These experiences will help the fellow connect their learning to societal challenges. (e.g., understanding how social determinants of health impact an individual’s ability to enroll and regularly participate in a community-based program as a participant or mentor. Secondly, how does their participation or lack thereof impact their health, employment, career readiness, and overall quality of life)?

Diversity: E3 values diversity as we seek access, opportunity, and a place to belong for all community members and JMU students. E3 joins the university in valuing all members and. their perspectives. By including students from majors across campus, each member naturally brings their professional lens into each mentorship, programming, and research experience. By embracing the diversity of thought, program leads, mentors, and supervisors must consider the whole person when attempting to meet their needs. The fellow will understand what inclusion means for each stakeholder through outreach and engagement activities. Secondly, the fellow will see how learning translates to practice. The fellow and director of training and impact will gather and review all perspectives and use the collected data to inform training, research, program planning, implementation, and impact evaluation.

Innovation: Creativity, Collaboration, Knowledge creation, and excellence
The fellow will co-design, launch, and lead
E3’s Difference Maker in Training (DMT) Program, built around JMU's fundamental values of innovation, collaboration, and knowledge creation. In cross-disciplinary teams of four, DMTs will select a complex problem discovered through E3’s research and work collaboratively to develop innovative solutions. The fellow will lead a weekly learning community, connect teams to community partners and experts, and mentor each team in their pursuit of excellence. By the end of the semester, each team will present their problem and the innovative solution they have developed or tested.

Student Focus: Challenge and Support Students
’s 10-week physical activity and nutrition mentorship interventions could not be possible without JMU students serving as one-on-one mentors and program co-leads. These placements challenge students personally and professionally as addressing the needs of underserved populations is not easy but is very rewarding. E3's research indicates that our impact opportunities improve emotional health for 95% of actively involved students. These efforts align with the university's values to challenge and support students.

In support of Empowerment3’s goals, we expect the Engagement Fellow to work toward achieving the following outcomes alongside our E3 team and student directors:

  • Through outreach and engagement efforts, we recruit at least 50 first-year students, 50 second-year students, 25 transfer students, and 75 students in general education courses each semester.

  • 75% of JMU students demonstrate an improvement in at least one physical or emotional health indicator because of their involvement as a 1:1 mentor or program lead.

  • Engage with at least two new student groups to broaden their impact while enhancing E3’s DEI efforts

  • Defining specific impact outcomes from our initial cohort of Difference Makers in Training (DMT) versus students who engage as service learners or volunteer in E3.

  • Work with three new community organizations to enhance their inclusive programming or increase the number of participants from underserved populations enrolled.

  • Recruit at least 50 individuals or caregivers minimum to use E3's Connected Wellness app to improve physical and emotional health outcomes.

Interested in Applying to this Fellowship Position?

JMU Presidential Engagement Fellows will: Represent the University and are held to the highest standards of performance and behavior. They should seek to provide quality service in their placements while growing both personally and professionally. Their past experience at James Madison University should inform their daily work as they seek to help this community grow and improve every day. They will serve as part of a cohort of Fellows dedicated to the Fellowship and James Madison University. They will also balance their commitment to the Program with the needs of their placement and the work needed for each to be successful.

  1. Demonstrate a commitment to the James Madison University Mission and Vision and a sense of responsibility and obligation within the community and organization they serve.
  2. Approach complex problems through the practice of interpersonal skills that promote teamwork and acceptance of diversity of thought regarding goals and priorities.
  3. Uphold meaningful and productive connections between the university and community, and be alert to possibilities for expansion.
  4. Explore personal strengths and improve upon weaknesses, with particular emphasis on developing career options and exploring life plan goals through experiential learning.
  5. Display an understanding of organizational communication and interconnectedness and how entities work together to solve larger community-based problems.

In addition to meeting the specific job description/expectations for the respective department, the Fellow will:

  • Exceed expectations within their placement and serve the JMU community through their 25 hours average per week in that role.
  • Work in their role for the time period of August 15 – May 15;
  • Engage in an average of 2 hours of weekly program activities:
  • Participate in all professional development activities organized by the program;
  • Attend weekly program staff meetings;
  • Represent the university at designated events and programs and serve as an ambassador for the university; and
  • Adhere to all JMU policies for employees; and
  • Perform other duties as assigned.


Fellowship Duties and Responsibilities

While the specific expectations of the position may change based on the selected candidates strengths and interests, we anticipate the fellow to take the lead on the following:


     1. Conduct engagement activities to recruit students to become 1:1 mentors (3 hours)

           - In residence halls, recruit first- and second-year students, engage with transfer students, and                          present to students within general education courses.

          - Oversee mentors and participants as they engage in weekly programming.

     2. Engage with existing student organizations across campus to allow each group’s efforts to have a           broader impact and mutually enhance E3’s DEI efforts. (3 hours)

          a. Ex: Connect with foreign language and cultural clubs to increase access for community                       members from diverse cultures, races, languages, and backgrounds.

      3. Implementation of E3’s Difference Maker in Training Program, a leadership and learning                          community for up to 20 students from any major each semester. (10 hours)


As an additional benefit, the selected candidate will receive training (up to 4 hours/week) to become a Community Health Worker (no prior academic background needed) or certified inclusive fitness trainer (if the candidate has a health science, health professions, or kinesiology background). This professional development opportunity will enhance the fellow’s knowledge and skill set and future employment potential.

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