Today’s guest post comes to us from Jessica Tharp (AmeriCorps ’02), Asia Study Abroad Coordinator at the University of Colorado Denver’s Global Education Office.
SIT Graduate Institute is an education partner of AMERICORPS ALUMS and offers a $5,500 tuition match of the Segal award to enrolled AmeriCorps Alums. During the 2013-2014 academic year, SIT awarded $93,182 in Ed Award matching scholarships to enrolled AmeriCorps Alums.
Right after I graduated from high school in 2001, I joined AmeriCorps NCCC. My team worked on a variety of projects: we constructed homes for Habitat for Humanity builds in Hawaii, acted as teaching assistants for an elementary school in California, worked as gardeners at a botanical garden in Oregon, were camp counselors at a camp for children and adults with disabilities, and served on the disaster relief team for the American Red Cross when a typhoon hit Guam. Through each project, I became more interested in issues around social justice, and learned how to collaborate with a diverse group of individuals. AmeriCorps inspired me to continue enacting positive change as well as develop the relevant skills, such as working as a team player, to actually contribute to this mission.
In the decade following my term in AmeriCorps, I continued to hone the skills I’d built in national service, before deciding to enroll in the SIT Masters in International Education program. When I started SIT, I had just returned from a year in Vietnam, where I taught English and advised Vietnamese high school students. Based on this experience, I knew I wanted to work in the field of international education. I only had a glimpse of the field I wanted to pursue while abroad, but at SIT Read more…
Today’s guest post comes to us from Kristin Ginger (AmeriCorps ’09), Communications Coordinator at Women Employed
We want to talk with YOU about women in the workplace! If you have thoughts on women Alums in the workplace, join us at 3pm EST on Friday, March 7th for a Twitter Town hall using #ALUMSNOW. The first Friday of each month, AMERICORPS ALUMS hosts a monthly twitter discussion on Alums in leadership. You can follow AMERICORPS ALUMS on twitter at https://twitter.com/americorpsalums.
When I became an AmeriCorps VISTA, it was because I had no idea what else to do with my life after graduation. It wasn’t entirely random—I’d been passionate about human rights and an active member of Amnesty International for seven years, and my VISTA position was at MCC Refugee Resettlement, where I was the New Arrivals Education Coordinator—but it wasn’t something I planned out, either. I was terrified of the real world, and when I heard a friend talk about how he was going to do a year of AmeriCorps to buy himself time to figure out longer term plans, I decided to steal his idea.
Within my first few weeks at MCC Refugee Services, it was clear to me that the year would permanently change how I viewed the world. I was teaching survivors of genocide how to use computers, teaching refugees who’d never lived outside of a refugee camp how to interview for a job, and interviewing survivors of torture.
The year burned me out. I didn’t know how to keep boundaries between myself and such difficult work, and I didn’t want to keep boundaries between myself and these people who were trusting me with their stories. After my VISTA year, I took a break from service: Read more…
For many of us who have served in AmeriCorps, the service experience catapults us to career opportunities that are directly connected with our service in AmeriCorps. The same is true for Shayla Price, an AmeriCorps VISTA alum who served in 2012 with Harvesters in Kansas City, Missouri.
The AmeriCorps experience gave me courage to be on the frontlines of issues affecting my community. I learned how to not hesitate when challenges arise. That’s definitely why I accepted my current Executive Director position. I chose not to be on the sidelines anymore. AmeriCorps was a great experience for me that helped open this door!
Shayla is currently the Executive Director of the National Search Dog Alliance (NSDA), a nonprofit whose mission is to provide education, certifications and a voice in the future of search and rescue canines. The organization supports the efforts of all search and rescue personnel by enhancing their knowledge and capabilities in the field of search and rescue canines. One of the key skills learned in AmeriCorps that Shayla uses today is collaboration. She reveals, “Effective collaboration is one of the key skills I learned in AmeriCorps that I use today. During my summer of service, I worked with others at a mobile food pantry to distribute fresh veggies and fruits to families. Now, I partner with individuals to ensure canine search and rescue teams are equipped with the proper training to bring the missing and endangered back to their families. Through these experiences, I learned the value of national service.” Read more…
When the government shutdown this past October caused a living stipend delay for AmeriCorps VISTA members, some members were literally unsure where their next meal would come from. Enter the Connecticut (CT) Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums. The chapter quickly mobilized by organizing and sponsoring an emergency pizza party for VISTA members impacted by the stipend delay. Hosted at a local restaurant in New Haven, over a dozen VISTA members and alumni gathered to not only share a hot meal, but also to connect with one-another during a time which challenged many of the members’ commitments to service. The event led to increased goodwill and awareness of the chapter within the VISTA community, as well as the CNCS Connecticut State Program Director.
Building on the government shutdown effort, the CT chapter wanted to do more to connect AmeriCorps programs and members across the state. Noticing that there was no database of contacts for all of the AmeriCorps programs in CT, the chapter decided to do something about it! True to the philosophy of “getting things done” they compiled this information by contacting the offices of the CT Commission on Community Service (the organization that hosts all State Programs), the CNCS CT Office (which hosts all CT VISTA programs), and individual AmeriCorps*National and National VISTA programs that have a presence in the state. The goal of this project was to get an accurate count of total AmeriCorps members serving in the state and to build new connections among AmeriCorps programs by hosting all of this information in one easy-to-use place. This information is now available online, but more importantly it has been instrumental in helping to plan service events and other opportunities across the AmeriCorps network throughout the state! Read more…
“A day on, not a day off!” It’s the refrain that has become commonplace around MLK, Jr. Day, and it’s one that countless AmeriCorps Alums have acted on year after year, including last week’s 2014 celebration of MLK, Jr. Day. Across the nation, AMERICORPS ALUMS’ chapters honored the holiday by making it a day of service in their community.
North Texas Chapter of AMERICORPS ALUMS
Collaborating on five different MLK, Jr. Day activities and projects, the North Texas chapter made a big impact in the Dallas metro area region. Efforts included marching in the City of Dallas’ MLK, Jr. Day parade, reorganizing and painting a Project Transformation Library, and making final preparations to make a Habitat For Humanity home move-in ready.
Memorable moment of the day: While waiting for the city parade to begin, a young woman came up to the float organizer and introduced herself. Her name was Amber Givens and she is an AmeriCorps Alum who was participating in the parade to promote her running in the election for county judge. Amber served in AmeriCorps*NCCC.
For a full recap of North Texas MLK, Jr. Day events, please click here.
Los Angeles Chapter of AMERICORPS ALUMS
On January 20th, the L.A. Chapter joined over 1,000 volunteers to transform Hillcrest Drive Elementary School at L.A. Works’ annual MLK Jr. Day of Service. The start of the day was filled with energy from a zumba warm-up and hot coffee to brightly colored balloons and enthusiastic Project Leaders who guided the volunteers to their work stations. Within the course of a few hours, the L.A. Chapter painted a variety of walls, stairwells, poles, benches and fences changing the entire look of the campus. Projects around the campus were aimed at enhancing the learning environment for the children so they could be proud and feel comfortable at the school they called home. Alongside the L.A. Chaper, community and corporate volunteers were also building and painting picnic tables, building garden beds, and painting murals. By the end of the day, the campus was transformed and the chapter had a lot of fun doing it as a team!
Today’s guest post comes to us from Kimberly Ligon (AmeriCorps NCCC ’09), and current Masters in International Development and Service student with the IPSL program. IPSL is a national education partner of AmeriCorps Alums.
I was a member of AmeriCorps NCCC Class XV Denver Campus. For those 10 months of my life I traveled with the same 10 members, moving every 2 months onto a new project. During my time in NCCC, I canvassed communities in Galveston, Texas after the disaster of Hurricane Ike. I worked on wildfire prevention in the small community of Crown King, Arizona. I also served on Habitat for Humanity projects in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama. After AmeriCorps, I was a veterinary assistant in an animal hospital for 3 years, but there was always something missing. I missed the interaction with people; volunteering side by side helping to build and protect communities, striving to make communities across America better in any small way possible. And as I realized how much I needed to go back to community work, the IPSL program came into my life. The IPSL Masters in International Development and Service can be and has been for me the perfect continuation of AmeriCorps.
I am now in the beginning of the third semester of the IPSL Masters in Development and Service Program. In these past three semesters, I have studied and learned about a vast array of topics and issues facing our planet, including: the effects of globalization across the world; ethical development practices; how to improve communication between cultures; and more. But I have not only been learning, I have been working side by side in every community the program has taken us to.
Today’s blog post comes from our “Ask the Career Coach” Column by Denise Riebman (AmeriCorps ’94), Director of Career Development and Alumni Services for the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University. Each month Denise takes questions from our LinkedIn Group and responds in our “Ask the Career Coach” column. If you have a question for the AmeriCorps Alums “Ask the Career Coach” column, you can submit it here.
Those of us in the national service world seem to have an easier time thanking others – our community, nonprofits, funders, legislators – than expressing gratitude for ourselves and how our careers are changing this world. So, I challenge you to make your 2014 New Year’s Resolution to focus appreciation on yourself and the impact of your career and I promise that not only will you shift the way you see yourself professionally but your career will thank you for it.
Gratitude for your STRENGTHS
“What are you GREAT at?” The common response when I ask this question is, “Well, I’m GOOD at xx and xx.” When I ask the question again, reemphasizing the word, “GREAT,” I am usually greeted by a long awkward silence. If I had asked instead, “What are you BAD at,” instead of silence I’m sure I’d get a long litany of answers. Evolution and society has driven us to focus on our weaknesses despite overwhelming research proving that if we find work that allows us to BUILD and BROADEN our strengths, we are not only more productive and more likely to find “flow” in our careers, we are also happier overall in our lives.
If you have your own long silent pause going on in your head right now thinking about what you are great at, here are some quick tips for identifying and being grateful for your strengths: Read more…