Seven graduates of the Classes of 2019 will dedicate a year to supporting underserved communities throughout the United States, joining a long tradition of Hobart and William Smith alums who are serving or who have served in AmeriCorps.
“AmeriCorps is beautiful,” says Dylan Doeblin ’18, who just finished a year with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). “You can wake up in Washington and two days later wake up in Southern California.”
Beyond New York State, the recent graduates have placements ranging from Tucson, Arizona and Edgecomb, Maine to Chicago, Illinois and Fraser, Colorado.
Elizabeth Anderson ’19 will work with the Legal Assistance of Western New York at its office in Geneva, where she will focus on community outreach and research. “I wanted to give back to the Geneva community,” Anderson says. “I am excited to become a part of this community as a resident rather than a student, creating stronger bonds with community members.”
An anthropology major, Anderson says that Associate Professor of Anthropology Jason Rodriguez’s course “NGOs and Development” sparked her interest in non-profit work, while her experience studying abroad in Ecuador, Peru and in Kenya “prepared me to work with numerous populations with a dynamic range of social, economic and cultural backgrounds.”
Jacqueline Bange ’19 will join Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester as part of Rochester Youth Year (RYY), which is an AmeriCorps VISTA sponsored program. RYY offers recent college graduates a year of full-time employment with a local community organization that combats issues of education, economics and social equity.
“I’ll be developing an outreach plan for the community and building sustainable corporate and community partnerships within Rochester,” says Bange, who graduated summa cum laude in sociology. As a student, she says her coursework encouraged her “to become more informed about issues, think through potential strategies for improvement and motivated me to want to help bring about change.”
At AmeriCorps VISTA in Tucson, Ariz., Sarah Banta ’19 began her service in June as a quality improvement and practice transition coordinator with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona. “I track and report health initiatives aimed to increase patient care and population health,” says Banta. The clinic is working to establish a behavioral health program and become “a more integrated care clinic,” a process with which Banta is assisting.
A psychology major, Banta developed an interest in behavioral health in a medical setting during a course with Associate Professor of Psychology Jamie Bodenlos. Banta adds that her work as a Civic Leader through the HWS Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning “helped me develop a passion and skillset for working with a range of populations in different capacities as well as developing leadership skills to take initiative.”
Maeve Creagan ’19 will work as a scholar coach focusing on reading at Highland Park High School in Chicago, tutoring scholars “one-on-one as well as in group settings with school programming and special enrichment programming,” she explains. Through seminars, reading focused course work, exposure trips and college visits, Creagan will support students as they apply to college.
Graduating cum laude in political science and history, Creagan developed a “multifaceted understanding of the cyclical history of inequality in the United States. However, I wanted to understand firsthand the experiences of others in my community who didn’t have the same opportunities as I did.” Through her service work at HWS, she was exposed to “a perspective on what kids’ lives are like outside of the academic sphere which gave me the extra push to continue with a service-oriented job.”
Serving as a Climate Fellow with CivicSpark in Carpinteria, Calif., Helen Wagner Maggitti ’19 will assist with the organization’s strategic energy plan. Maggitti says the effort will “increase local resiliency by promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage projects.”
An economics major and president of Campus Greens, Maggitti is grateful for the guidance she received from Professor of Economics Thomas Drennen and the Office of Sustainability which allows her to do this “meaningful work that will benefit the local community and the health of our planet.”
Graduating cum laude in writing and rhetoric and environmental studies, Daria Stacy ’19 will serve as an Outdoor Adventure Program member with the Midcoast Conservancy. She will work with children and families to improve their relationship with the outdoors through activities like biking, hiking and kayaking. Stacy studied abroad in the three-week program “Outdoor Education: Theoretical Issues in Outdoor Pursuits” in Carmarthen, Wales and plans to use the knowledge she acquired to provide engaging learning.
“I hope to give the communities I’m working with the same exciting feeling in the outdoors that the instructors on that program gave me,” Stacy says.
Graduating summa cum laude in environmental studies, Katherine Valicenti ’19 will work at Headwater Alliance in Colorado. Her assignment includes grant writing, fundraising, watershed restoration and GIS mapping of the Willow Creek Watershed. This position is a “perfect way to do something meaningful, exciting and directly applying what I have learned.”
Valicenti credits her professors, “from [Associate Professor of Environmental Studies] Kristen Brubaker teaching me important fundamental skills to spending a summer doing water quality research with [Professor of Environmental Studies] John Halfman.”
Swellar Zhuo ’19 will join Bange at the Rochester Youth Year program. At the Urban Choice Charter School, Zhuo hopes “to add value and expand the work done by previous AmeriCorps VISTA participants” through her work “enhancing and expanding the volunteer program,” as well as assisting the school’s communication, marketing and fundraising.
A writing and rhetoric and sociology double major, Zhuo is excited “to start applying the skills I have acquired to practice and start doing meaningful work. I am also excited to meet other Vistas, who share the same drive and mission, in the Rochester area.”
These graduates join other AmeriCorps volunteers including classmate Elijah Rutledge ’19, who worked with AmeriCorps NCCC before matriculating to the Colleges. During his year of service, Rutledge worked on four projects on the west coast including wetland restoration and invasive species removal. Several members of the Classes of 2018 including Kevin Collado ’18, Alexandra Robbins-Jackson ’18, Samantha “Sammy” Ruthazer ’18, Sadeek Walker ’18 and Lauren Workman ’18 are currently working at locations across the country. In Rochester, N.Y., AmeriCorps volunteers Hilda Agyekum ’18 and Aidan Ely ’18 are mobilizing resources to increase the quality of life for underserved communities.
Collectively, HWS students contribute more than 80,000 hours of service and engagement annually to local, national and international communities, and generate approximately $110,000 in fundraising efforts for non-profit organizations. Hobart and William Smith are also among just 100 institutions across the country that match 100 percent of AmeriCorps education awards for currently enrolled students.
Learn more about AmeriCorps and other service opportunities for HWS graduates.