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How AmeriCorps Works From *VISTA to the NAVY

March 16, 2012

As Part of Woman’s History Month, we’ll be sharing inspirational stories from our Female AmeriCorps Alums who have done incredible work during their service and continue to inspire others in their Life After AmeriCorps!

Today’s post originally appeared on Snohomish County Youth United‘s Facebook page on March 12, 2012.

Amber Lynn and husband Michael

Amber Lynn Daniel served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with The Volunteer Center at United Way of Snohomish County in 2010. She helped to further develop their Youth United Program, further developing the program and engaging youth in service. Amber Lynn is now serving with the United States Navy as a Navy Public Affairs Officer. 

Such great timing – tomorrow (March 13) is officially one year since I said goodbye to my civilian life, endured a brutal haircut, and put my first foot forward on my path to becoming a Navy Officer! I can’t believe it’s been a year since I left Washington for Officer Candidate School!

Certainly, my life has changed drastically since I was a VISTA! While I was a VISTA exactly one year ago, much of my time was spent working with teens and having fun. Although I don’t work with teens anymore, I do still manage to have a lot of fun as a Navy Public Affairs Officer, also known as a PAO.

My current job is located in Washington, D.C. in the Navy’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

It’s a big job that’s hard to put into words – PAO’s do everything from serve as media spokespeople for the Navy, to attending events and serving as liaisons between the media and Navy officials. I also spend a significant amount of time traveling to diversity outreach events and taking photos and writing stories for, the Navy’s own news network. The best part of doing outreach events (besides the travel, which I love) is that I get to talk with the public about what the Navy is all about.

I love being able to share my own story – after all, few 30 year old women just up and decide to join the Navy without good reason – and interact with our future leaders. It certainly keeps me inspired to keep doing a good job!

My time at the United Way of Snohomish County as a VISTA definitely prepared me well for life in the Navy. I still do spend long hours far outside the typical 9-5 work week (just like I did as a VISTA) and sometimes the job is hard and thankless (alas, sometimes being a VISTA was also this way) but you keep doing it because you believe in the cause and the difference you can make. I believe I continue to honor my country through my service just like I did in AmeriCorps, albeit in a different way. I have an active leadership role (again, just like VISTA) and although the pay isn’t as bad as VISTA, it certainly helped me prepare for the austerity and sacrifice that can sometimes come along with Navy life.

The Navy is not for everyone, and neither is the VISTA program. But for me, I know that it helped set me up for the current success I’ve had in my career, and I will forever be thankful to those that helped not only put me on this path to success, but encouraged me every step of the way, even when it meant leaving my VISTA term early.

No one makes it alone, and I think both the Navy and VISTA have taught me this lesson many times over!!

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