Following their passion for service in locations across the country, five graduates from the Classes of 2015 are beginning their tenures with AmeriCorps. With a focus on community-building and volunteerism, the students join the ranks of many alumni and alumnae who have served in AmeriCorps.
Kicking off their service with AmeriCorps are Liam Allman ’15, Lauren Darcy ’15, Jordan Mueller ’15, Rachel Newcomb ’15 and Andrea Tran ’15. Each year, AmeriCorps engages people in intensive service at more than 15,000 locations across the country, including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups. Members help communities tackle problems while mobilizing volunteers for the organizations they serve.
“AmeriCorps is an outstanding option for an HWS graduate, and one that we’re proud to support,” says Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers. “The commitment that recent graduates have made to AmeriCorps speaks to our dedication as a liberal arts institution to promoting lives of consequence. The Colleges have been named to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Honor Roll with the hard work and civic engagement of students like these.”
Allman is set to move to Queens, N.Y., for a year of AmeriCorps’ City Year Program. He joins a prestigious organization that offers resources to urban school districts, including one-on-one and group tutoring during the school day, before- and after-school club activities to enrich curriculum and the organization of celebrations, activities and projects to sponsor school spirit and a sense of belonging. Allman says he was inspired to join the organization after taking the course “Two Cities: New York and Toronto” with Professor Emeritus of Sociology Jim Spates P’00, P’09 and Professor Emerita of Economics Jo Beth Mertens.
“I want to serve because communities are strengthened when the most people possible are given opportunity to voice their concerns and generate positivity and improvements from the inside out,” Allman says. “In order to empower a community that feels powerless, people need to be given equal and adequate opportunity. Opportunity that, I believe, starts with education.”
Darcy has also chosen an educational setting for her year of service and will be placed in an organization which works to benefit the Rochester City School District. The Rochester AmeriCorps has a direct focus on improving education and public safety in order to strengthen its community. Darcy says her decision to serve was a result of taking part in initiatives such as LoveGeneva or Geneva 2020, a collaborative effort between HWS and local schools in advancing career and college readiness, graduation rates, and literacy rates of K-12 students. A native of Central New York, Darcy hopes to work in community development after graduate school.
“Upstate New York is my home and I am excited to join my neighbors and to learn from them through service work,” she says.
Mueller will be involved with the AmeriCorps VISTA program for one year working in Detroit, Mich., with the Detroit Food Academy. In his placement, Mueller will support Detroit high schoolers by building community partnerships as well as assisting the creation of a community guide book and activity trainings from schools and partner neighborhoods. He says that, through his studies at HWS, he developed a common theme of “how can we improve on communities to make them better places to live.”
“For me, AmeriCorps was a perfect way to put what I had learned into practice,” Mueller says. “This opportunity will allow me to be an agent of positive change that I had focused on in my studies.”
Newcomb will serve AmeriCorps in Knoxville, Tenn., at the Beardsley Community Farm as an education and nutrition coordinator. The farm provides fruits and vegetables to those who are a part of the Knoxville community who might otherwise not have access to them. Newcomb will work directly with the farm to gain experience in food inequalities.
“I was inspired to serve in this way because of what I learned in my environmental studies, anthropology and public policy classes about environmental justice issues,” she says. “Being a student in these disciplines uncovered my passion for making change, and participating in a year of service is one small way of doing just that. The author Alice Walker once said, ‘Activism is my rent for living on this planet,’ and I share her sentiment.”
Tran joins the Boston program, Tenacity, as an AmeriCorps Fellow. The program combines a focus on tennis and increasing academic achievement for students in Boston public schools at all levels. Founded in 1999, Tenacity has served more than 30,000 students in providing safe and structured spaces to hone skills and cultivating active minds. Tran, who was once enrolled in a similar program, sees her involvement as a way to “get back and give back.”
This year, three HWS students are also joining FoodCorps, a partner of the AmeriCorps Service Network. Through the FoodCorps program, Mollie Kenerson ’15 will be stationed in Springdale, Ark.; Stacey Davis ’15 will serve in Bridgeport, Conn., and Abbe Lentz ’15 will begin her tenure in Harlem, N.Y.