Interview with Nastasha Powers, Class of 2019 and 2022


Nastasha Powers



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Oral history interview with Illinois State University alum Nastasha Powers, Class of 2019 and 2022. The interview was conducted during the summer of 2023 by Ayushi Shukla, then a student employee at Milner Library. Powers, a non-traditional student and mother of two, shares her path from initially pursuing a career in nursing to finding her passion in criminal justice and victim advocacy.

Powers, who is originally from Chicago, elected to move to Bloomington-Normal to pursue a nursing degree at ISU after becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant through City Colleges of Chicago. Though she was admitted to the university, she did not get accepted to the Mennonite College of Nursing. After a spiritual moment where she asked God where she should go, she decided to remain with the university and major in criminal justice sciences. She also elected to pursue a certificate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies in order to better understand victimization in the LGBTQ+ community.

Powers expresses gratitude for the supportive environment she found within the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences, particularly mentioning professors like Drs. Shelly Clevenger and Dawn Beichner-Thomas. When she first arrived at the university, she says, she felt out-of-place and intimidated as a non-traditional student, but the mentors she found through CJS, especially fellow Black faculty members Drs. Charles Bell and Miltonette Craig, inspired her to confidence.

The interview delves into Powers’ academic experiences, including her involvement in student organizations such as the Criminal Justice Association and Breaking Barriers. She emphasizes the importance of community engagement and activism in supporting survivors of sexual violence, a cause she remains deeply committed to in her work at the YWCA Stepping Stones program. She also describes a trip to London and Paris where she learned more about the victims of an infamous serial killer.

Powers discusses her master's thesis, which explores the reasons that victims of sexual assault are reluctant to report the crimes against them, highlighting her approach of interviewing practitioners rather than survivors to avoid re-traumatization. She also shares challenges she faced during her academic journey, including personal obstacles and the transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After completing an internship at Stepping Stones in 2019, Powers transitioned to a full-time role at the organization. She describes her position as supervising educators who teach community members about sexual violence and rape prevention. Under the aegis of Erin’s Law, her educators are able to provide age-appropriate lessons to K-12 and college students, covering topics from unsafe touches to types of sexual assault.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; Powers’ background and decision to move to Bloomington-Normal: 00:00-02:34
  • Majoring in criminal justice sciences: 02:34-05:03
  • Shelly Clevenger and victimology: 05:03-06:44
  • London and Paris trip: 06:44-07:52
  • Involvement in YWCA Stepping Stones program: 07:52-13:17
  • Women’s, gender, and sexuality studies certificate: 13:17-14:38
  • Master’s thesis: 14:38-16:10
  • First memories of ISU; finding community through CJS: 16:10-18:16
  • Participating in student organizations: 18:16-19:23
  • Struggling with statistics class: 19:23-21:34
  • Encountering obstacles while a student, including COVID-19: 21:34-23:20
  • Most influential faculty members: 23:20-25:42
  • Involvement in Bloomington-Normal community and :25:42-28:02
  • Promotion at Stepping Stones following master’s degree: 28:02-29:14
  • Staying involved as an alum; continuing to support survivors: 29:14-32:15
  • Graduate School diversity tuition waver; conclusion: 32:15-33:24

Interview with Nastasha Powers, Class of 2019 and 2022