As the Class of 2015 prepares to graduate, soon-to-be alums consider where their predecessors have found success beyond Beacon. One place that Beacon alumni have found fulfillment is in the AmeriCorps program. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Career Development instructor Kelly Rogers introduced her graduating students to AmeriCorps. Established in 1994, the AmeriCorps program is designed to provide young adults the opportunity to develop professionally and personally, earn money for graduate studies or college loan repayment, and become a good citizen committed to volunteer efforts. Two recent Beacon graduates, William Baldwin and Alex Sweet became part of the AmeriCorps volunteer community this past fall and encourage other graduating students to consider this opportunity. Another recent graduate, Adriyan Scipio, joined AmeriCorps just last week, and graduating senior Peyton Forster is looking forward to her service, set to begin in August.
In conversation with Alex Sweet, it rapidly became clear that he has an incredible enthusiasm for his experiences with the AmeriCorps program FEMA and that he knows this was a valuable step forward in his career trajectory. While his service may not directly correspond with his dream job of working in the field of marine biology, Sweet says he has already been given a tremendous opportunity for personal and professional growth. He has built his self-confidence, and he is positive that he will also leave with a strong personal and professional network upon which to build his career. As his term draws to a close, Alex is looking forward to the possibilities that this experience have opened for him.
Alex insists, “I can’t even tell you how amazing this program is.” His zest for the program, however, is clearly evident in his descriptions of the work he has been doing. He speaks of his experience in glowing terms, and the photos and stories he shares on social media demonstrate the passion he has for what he is doing.
William Baldwin, known at Beacon for his dedication to health and fitness as well as his kind, caring demeanor, has been given the opportunity to exercise both his strength and compassion in his role with AmeriCorps NCCC. Bill’s campus base is Sacramento, CA; his team is deployed to communities in need of assistance for a specific purpose. Their service projects have included rebuilding trails destroyed in a fire in Southern California and assisting people in Montana who arrive for help with filing their tax returns. Bill’s term ends in July, and he plans to search for work in the field of fitness. He says his service with AmeriCorps has been a great experience that has helped him learn to be more flexible and adapt to changes in environment.
Bill’s advice to other Beacon alums: “If you don’t have a job yet try, try, and try again. Go after what you want, but you still have to look for it. My stint with AmeriCorps isn’t permanent, but it’s a step in the right direction…Having a learning disability doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. You most certainly can succeed. You just have to put your head down and work really hard and don’t procrastinate.”
Adryian Scipio is the newest Beacon College graduate to join the ranks of AmeriCorps volunteers. As a member of AmeriCorps VISTA, Adryian is fulfilling the role of Community Engagement Specialist with the Children’s Home Society of Florida in the cities of Lakeland and Tampa. Though it’s been only two weeks, Adryian declares that she loves what she’s doing and the transition from college to work has been easy since she knew “AmeriCorps was the perfect fit.” She is hopeful that her experience will help lead her to a government position in the future, but right now she is focused on learning and enjoying her current role. She is looking forward to making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth.
Graduating students have also caught the AmeriCorps spirit. Senior Peyton Forster has plans to join FEMA in August and is already excited by the prospect. She says she was inspired by alumnus Alex Sweet. Seeing all his photos on Facebook and hearing the stories about what he was working on made Peyton realize just how valuable the experience is. Knowing that she is a kinesthetic learner makes Peyton confident that the hands-on activities that AmeriCorps FEMA members are involved with makes this program a good fit for her. She is already looking forward to gaining new skills and meeting new people.
All of the Beacon College alumni who have been drawn to the AmeriCorps program were Human Services majors. The community service aspect clearly appeals to the nurturing side of these students, and the interpersonal skills they learned in their undergraduate education have been put into effect through their various commitments. This program offers opportunities that may appeal to students from any major and is definitely worth considering as a next step beyond Beacon (full disclosure: the author is an alum of AmeriCorps).
AmeriCorps Week was celebrated from March 9-13th, and the social media slideshow may be viewed on Storify. Check it out to see what this program is all about, in the words of current and former members.
NCCC is accepting applications now through April 1st for service terms beginning in October, and FEMA terms begin this summer. Learn more about the available opportunities here.
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Head shots courtesy of Heather Reed