This fall, Paul McNeil ’05 and Kate Ustach ’07, were hired by the Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning to head two of the Colleges’ AmeriCorps programs. McNeil has been put in charge of Jumpstart Geneva, which hires students to be AmeriCorps members with local Head Start programs. Ustach will serve in the new AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) position.
McNeil, as the site manager for Jumpstart Geneva, will work with the Assistant Director and the Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning to support the Colleges’ mission through the coordination of the Jumpstart program. He will recruit and train Corps members as well as provide guidance and support for members through observation and feedback to ensure quality interactions with children in the program. McNeil will also establish and maintain communication with local early childhood program partners while staying in close contact with the program’s faculty advisor and Jumpstart National/Regional staff.
Jumpstart, founded in 1993 at Yale University, dedicates itself to the need for quality early childhood programs and the emerging national service movement recruiting thousands of college students to community service. For over a decade they’ve been bringing together at-risk preschool children and caring adults, through one-on-one relationships that focus on building literacy in combination with social and emotional readiness.
McNeil was an English major with a focus in teaching at the high school level. Since graduation, he has spent summers leading youth service and cultural exchange trips to Japan, Australia, Sweden, and Russia. “I couldn't be more excited to return to Geneva-on-Seneca, New York, said McNeil, “where I spent years falling in love with the dynamic and energetic Finger Lakes community through student teaching, teenage poetry workshops, and America Reads.
Ustach returns to the Center after working there throughout her four years at the Colleges in various positions. She contributed in realms such as a Jumpstart Geneva Corps member, the Jumpstart Geneva volunteer coordinator, the Center's student assistant office manager, and co-coordinator for the inaugural year of the Summit Educational Outreach program. Additionally, she co-established service-learning opportunities for HWS students studying abroad in Galway, Ireland.
In her new position, Ustach will focus on community development and poverty relief. Her VISTA position is through the New York Campus Compact, the state network of Campus Compact, of which Hobart and William Smith was a founding member. The national organization is a coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents — representing some six million students — all committed to fulfilling the public purposes of higher education. Through their national office and network of 31 state offices, member institutions receive the training, resources, and advocacy they need to build strong surrounding communities and teach students the skills and values of democracy.
The VISTA program was started in the 1960s by President Johnson with the stated mission of building capacity in non-profit organizations and communities to help bring people out of poverty. Specifically, Ustach will work with community members to establish an advisory board to identify community needs and coordinate volunteer opportunities. She will also create a student council to respond to these identified interests and needs. Additionally, she will create a volunteer handbook and update the Center’s Web site.
“I am thrilled to spend one more year at the Colleges, and am looking forward to strengthening and establishing relationships with community partners, Ustach said.
McNeil and Ustach were hired based on public service leadership experience, experience with AmeriCorps, working with pre-school and/or elementary aged children and a commitment to liberal arts.
“I am thrilled to have Paul and Kate back as professionals in our office and the growth in the Colleges engagement with the community that will result. said Averell Bauder ’81, the Director of the Center. “The skills and experience they bring to their positions have allowed them to hit the ground running and they are great role models for our students of how to start down the path to a life of engaged citizenship.