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5 Alum Stories That Will Make You Laugh, Give Second Chances, #Stand4Service, and Take a Leap of Faith

July 24, 2015

You’ve probably heard the expression that you’ll catch more flies with honey. But, did you know you’ll catch more attention if you catch a fly? (It’s harder than it looks without a fly swatter or honey!)

Here’s a round-up of some alum stories that inspired us or made us laugh including one from a Teach For America alum about how a fly made her rethink her teaching strategy.


“If kids think you’re crazy, they’ll pay attention,” says Teach For America alum, Natasha Vaynblat. “One of my favorite ‘make-them-think-you’re-crazy’ moments happened in my fourth year of teaching. I was instructing and there was a fly buzzing around the room. I could tell the kids were paying attention to the fly and not me, so I pretended to catch the fly. I made the motion as if I was about to put the fly in my mouth and eat it, but I hadn’t realized that I had ACTUALLY caught the fly. So when I opened my hand, the fly flew out and almost landed on my tongue! I tried to explain the mishap, but my students just thought I was crazy, which was great because I had them focused for a week.”

Teaching showed Natasha how to get an audience’s attention and not be afraid to get a little silly. She’s now a teacher and performer with Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater in New York City. Check out her story on the Teach For America blog. 

kenesha white house

Photo Credit: Greater Miami Service Corps

Kenesha Jackson says, “the Corps saved my life.” When Kenesha joined Corps Network’s Greater Miami Service Corps, she was pregnant and still working toward a high school diploma. She’s now a college student and recently spoke at a White briefing on community leadership. Read more …

PowerCorps Philly Juan Matos

PowerCorps Philadelphia alum Juan Matos’ transition from prison to a second chance with service led to “new skills, a brotherhood, a mentor” & a mention in a presidential speech. Check out what else Juan Matos had to say about why he’s choosing to serve again …

serve ohio quote

Photo by ServeOhio

“My experience is a testament to the power of national service. When the Corporation for National and Community Service made a small investment in my year of service a decade ago, it allowed me to build the capacity of the nonprofit where I served. But it also sparked a passion for giving back and continuing to volunteer beyond my year of service,” says AmeriCorps VISTA alum Dustin Speakman. Read the rest of his op-ed on why we should #Stand4Service, and then click here for tools on how to write your own.

Photo by Habitat for Humanity Charlotte

Photo by Habitat for Humanity Charlotte

“In 2000, I moved halfway across the country to Charlotte, N.C.— a city I had never visited—to volunteer as an AmeriCorps member at Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. My AmeriCorps year turned into two, and they shaped my life and my career. Fifteen years later, I haven’t left Charlotte,” says alum Maureen Krueger. Find out what she did next …

Do you have a great AmeriCorps or alumni story? Click here to share it with us!

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