Did you know that March 9-17 is AmeriCorps Week? During this time, we celebrate the impact of AmeriCorps volunteers and alumni around the country. To learn more about what AmeriCorps is and how it works, visit AmeriCorps.gov.
Like many college students, I approached graduation without a clear idea of what career path seemed best. My one requirement is that I wanted a job that made me happy—idealistic, right? I wanted to work in the field of education, but I wasn’t interested in teaching. My summer jobs as a camp counselor and later director confirmed that I loved working with teenagers and planning programs. As I searched for a path, I remembered what one of my friends told me about her plans to return to the U.S. after getting a degree abroad: “Ultimately, I’m a patriot, and I want to bring whatever I learn back to the US to make our country better.” I agree.
This sentiment led me to look exclusively at AmeriCorps positions available all around the country. I believe strongly in national service, and AmeriCorps provided an opportunity to give back to my country by doing meaningful work every day. I also recognize that I grew up with an enormous amount of privilege: access to high quality education, a safe home, more than enough food, and access to healthcare. Not everyone in our country can say the same, and I wanted to serve to address that imbalance.
Though there are many different types of AmeriCorps programs, I chose to serve as an Illinois state volunteer with a college access program. Spending almost every day in a high school, I have the privilege of being surrounded by intelligent, highly motivated students. Their dedication to education inspires me to create the most challenging lessons and programs possible to help them master reading and writing at the college level. I’m proud to have played a small role in their path to college, and I can’t wait to hear about all the amazing things they will do in the future.
Another benefit of AmeriCorps service is the personal and professional network it provides. My coworkers have become dear friends, professional cheerleaders, and inspirations. I’m also part of the larger service community, which includes resources like professional development and meet ups through AmeriCorps Alums. It is always a fun surprise to learn that someone else was a member of AmeriCorps, whether they served with TFA, NCCC, VISTA, or another acronym.
I’m proud to have contributed to the 1 billion hours of service completed by AmeriCorps volunteers since 1994!
Do you have any questions about AmeriCorps? I’m not an expert, but I’m happy to share my experience and offer suggestions for where to find programs that might interest you! You can also join @AmeriCorps for a live Twitter chat at 1:30 EST today (3/11/13) and ask questions in real time.