Abstracts: 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017

2009-2010 AmeriCorps VISTAs

 

CARROLL COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Jeana Biondo

Jeana Biondo


Jeana Biondo is the Service Learning VISTA at Carroll Community College. She earned her AA&S in General Studies from Carroll Community College in 2005, and then transferred to Villa Julie College where she received her BS in Interdisciplinary Studies for Business and Psychology in 2008. While an undergraduate she was highly involved in student activities programs that included events planning and service learning, and she uses those experiences to better serve students at Carroll. For the past 6 years she has worked in Higher Education in various student and professional capacities, and values being able to help students develop and succeed.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA project will be connected to our already established Center for Service-Learning. In order to enhance and expand the current program, the AmeriCorps*VISTA member will provide support for the four constituencies in the service-learning process: students, college faculty and staff, community partners and community members to develop and support service-based approaches to teaching and learning. One of the main objectives for the VISTA member will be to develop and cultivate community partnerships with county agencies that deal with poverty in the county.

COLLEGE OF NOTRE DAME

Hilry Hazelwood

Hilry Hazelwood


Hilry Hazelwood is from Shaker Heights, Ohio, and is a recent graduate of Elon University in North Carolina. While at Elon, she studied abroad and did extensive volunteer work in Guatemala and England, as well as participated in and engaged students in service by serving on the board of the campus chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, a national service sorority. She also worked to raise awareness of women’s issues on campus as a member of the Gender Studies advisory board. Through VISTA, she is organizing students from the College of Notre Dame to mentor and tutor students at the Sisters Academy, a middle school for girls from economically-challenged areas of Baltimore, as well as helping to create more general service opportunities on the college’s campus.

Project Description: The VISTA member will be responsible for managing placement of Notre Dame student volunteers to provide educational outreach, tutoring and leadership education for the students at Sister’s Academy. Sister’s Academy educates young girls of limited economic means who have the potential and motivation to be leaders in their communities. Sister’s Academy is for girls in grades fifth through eighth. The VISTA member will also: 1) Develop a system to enhance the Sister’s Academy curriculum through development of leadership, tutorial and college admissions and financial aid/educational programs; 2) coordinate Notre Dame and/or Sister’s Academy student participation in national service events (i.e. Martin Luther King day; National Volunteer Week; Youth Service day and make a Difference Day); 3) coordinate placement of Federal Work Study students in community agencies that support low-income students; 4) identify and train Notre Dame student volunteers to place at Sister’s Academy; and 5) evaluate volunteer programs and services.

COPPIN STATE UNIVERSITY

JaMar Jones

JaMar Jones


Ja-Mar Jones born in and raised in Baltimore Maryland serves as a VISTA and Service Learning Coordinator for Coppin State University. He works to provide ample community service and service learning opportunities for the benefit of the community, university and the entire student body. JaMar hopes to inspire the students with an original short film about getting involved in service learning.

Project Description: The Coppin State University Student Life Center AmeriCorps*VISTA member will be the Service Learning Coordinator for the University. The responsibilities of the AmeriCorps*VISTA member include but are not limited to: 1)Coordinating all University initiatives regarding Service Learning and Civic Engagement 2) Developing and coordinating an Alternative Spring Break Program 3) Focusing on developing opportunities for other service-learning and volunteer activities 4) Recruiting and supervising student workers assigned to the Student Life Center’s Community Engagement program. The AmeriCorps*VISTA will also actively connect with other VISTAs and programs across the state to cross-pollinate and enhance programmatic resource sharing.

GOUCHER COLLEGE

Amy Nigh

Amy Nigh


Amy Nigh is the VISTA Latino Community Liaison working closely in conjunction with the Community-Based Learning and the Hispanic Languages and Literatures Departments at Goucher College. She received her bachelor’s degree from Goucher in May 2009 with a major in Spanish Languages and Literatures. Amy has spent a significant amount of time studying abroad in diverse regions of Latin America including Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. These experiences have informed her interest and dedication to both Spanish and Portuguese language as well as the cultural multiplicity found in Latin America. Amy’s work as a VISTA has inaugurated a series of education-based programs serving the quickly growing Latino community in Baltimore County. This series of weekend programs will eventually grow into a sustainable community center for Latino immigrants and their families as well as neighbors Mand surrounding community members, including individuals from the student body at Goucher College.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will help develop a center to assist the Latino population in Baltimore County. The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will work with Goucher’s France-Merrick Professor in Service-Learning to develop partnerships between the college’s Spanish department, existing service organizations that serve the Latino community in the Greater Baltimore area, and the Latino community itself, living in Baltimore County. The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will assist in identifying programs that meet the community’s needs, will coordinate scheduled activities (after school and weekend programs, the campus’ Hispanic Heritage Month activities, etc), and will help recruit and coordinate Goucher students from community-based learning courses. He or she will also serve as the primary liaison between the college and community agencies (churches, government agencies, health agencies, etc).

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

Jennifer Yogi

Jennifer Yogi


Jen Yogi is the VISTA Community-based Learning Coordinator at Johns Hopkins University. She graduated with a B.A. in philosophy and political science from St. Mary's College of Maryland, where she was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Her undergraduate work, both academic and extracurricular, sparked her interests in food justice, the politics of identity, and civic engagement. In Baltimore, Jen hopes to develop her understanding of equitable community development by addressing issues of race, gender, class, and privilege within the context of higher education and service-learning. Eventually, she plans to attend graduate school in feminist ethics and radical political theory, and apply her education toward social justice work. In her free time, Jen enjoys reading, attending concerts, and volunteering at Red Emma’s Bookstore & Coffeeshop.

Project Description: The Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Concern seeks a Community-Based Learning (CBL) Coordinator. The responsibilities include but are not limited to: 1) Convening a multi-disciplinary student, community and faculty working group to encourage resource-sharing and capacity building in CBL. 2) Networking with other schools with strong service-learning offerings. 3) Creating community-based pilot programming, or providing oversight in a summer tutorial program, alternative spring break, and environmental justice program.

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

Jessica Zha

Jessica Zha


Jessica Zha graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 with a BA in both Philosophy and Environmental Science. She is now the VISTA Coordinator of the Campus Kitchen at JHU, a non-profit organization that she co-founded. Jessica first became involved with the Campus Kitchen because her primary passion in life is food. She believes that food deserves more respect that it typically receives in today’s culture—in the way that it is produced, distributed, consumed, and generally thought about. As a VISTA, she is struggling to promote fair and sustainable distribution of food in communities by curbing food waste and bringing food wealth to those with limited access. After her term ends, she plans to pursue an MD in pediatric medicine, with special interests in nutrition, gastroenterology, and diabetes prevention.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps member will work closely with the Center for Social Concern Staff to create a sustainable, replicable anti-poverty program to serve as a national model. Campus Kitchens at Hopkins gathers fresh food from nearby farms and fields, commercial restaurants, and campus dining facilities for redistribution to those in need. The position supervises all phases of the operation, coordinating both donor and recipient sites, and build campus and community partnerships in Baltimore City throughout the year. The position will also work with D.C. Central Kitchens and the national arm of Campus Kitchens to grow the initiative on other college campuses.

MCDANIEL COLLEGE

Siri Hiltz

Siri Hiltz


Siri Hiltz is the Americorps VISTA Liaison for Community Outreach & Service at McDaniel College. She received her BA in Art History and Spanish from McDaniel in 2009. While a student at McDaniel, Siri volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster. For three years she assisted with tutoring, arts projects, creative expression, and provided help for Spanish speakers at the Club. Siri also directed Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” whose proceeds go to the local Rape Crisis center and Family and Children’s Services. During the summers, Siri worked at a summer camp for girls aged 7-17, teaching nature classes, jewelry design and construction, and living in a cabin as a counselor. The Boys & Girls Club is one of Siri’s main projects at McDaniel College this year.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will focus specifically on working with the Westminster Boys and Girls Club of Metro Baltimore. The College’s close proximity makes the Club an ideal location for service-learning and volunteer activities. The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will take a leading role in service-learning at the College and will work closely with the director of the Boys and Girls Club to determine needs and ways the College may respond, particularly through service-learning projects. The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will supervise and monitor students’ work and activities as well as provide support for the students. The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will also focus on developing opportunities for other service-learning and volunteer activities. The member will be able to participate as a guest on a variety of boards for local non-profits, including the Boys and Girls Club; the Carroll County Partnership Board of the United Way of Central Maryland; and Interfaith Housing Alliance, Inc.

MARYLAND INSTITUTE COLLEGE OF ART

Becky LeFevre

Becky LeFevre


Rebecca LeFevre is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia. She attended the University of Pittsburgh from 2002-2004 focusing on business. In the fall of 2004 she began studying photography at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and graduated with a Bachelors degree in 2007. During her career at AIP she interned with the Families for Learning Center and taught basic photography classes to newly relocated refugees. In 2008 she accepted a state/national AmeriCorps position with the Washington Reading Corps and worked as a literacy tutor in the Seattle Public School District. Wanting to finally unite art and community service she applied for the MDCC VISTA position at Maryland Institute College of Art where she presently works.

Project Description: MICA’s AmeriCorps*VISTA member will recruit and train students to engage K-12 Baltimore students and community members in community arts, positively impacting their central Baltimore neighborhoods through art enrichment. Too often the lives of youth and adults in generational or situational poverty are devoid of artistic expression. Yet art is known to be a primary vehicle for community expression, personal and community change and transformation. The VISTA member will identify ways in which the Community Arts Program may expand opportunities for service combined with learning (service-learning) through community arts for MICA students. The VISTA member will develop collaborative projects with MICA faculty members interested in social justice and community arts in order to introduce students to service through the MICA curriculum.

MONTGOMERY COLLEGE, Takoma Park Campus

Danielle Alvarado

Danielle Alvarado


Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will be directly involved with the implementation of service-learning. He/she will help coordinate activities of the Takoma Park Campus, Montgomery County Public Schools, and community sites. The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will identify and secure appropriate service-learning sites, monitoring program and student progress, and provide follow-up and evaluation of the program and services. This project is focused on engaging first-generation, diverse college students in mentoring partnerships with local middle and high school immigrant youth who are in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs in the Montgomery County Public School system. It will create a cascading model of service engaging both college students and K-12 students in service-learning opportunities with local non-profits.

MOUNT ST. MARY’S UNIVERSITY

Melanie Clabaugh

Melanie Clabaugh


Melanie Clabaugh is the VISTA Service-Learning Coordinator for Mount St. Mary’s University. She received her BA in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006 and her M.Ed in Higher Education Management from the same institution in December 2008. As an undergraduate, Melanie worked as a tutor for the America Reads program and as a Summer Reading Program Coordinator for the Priestley Forsyth Memorial Library in Northumberland, PA. She served as the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for the Oakland Business Improvement District, a business district development organization in Pittsburgh, from July 2005-May 2009. During graduate school, she worked as an Institute Research Associate for the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Higher Education Management and served on a committee that created graduate and certificate programs to train community college administrators.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member, with the help of community members and The Mount community, will reduce the effects of poverty by helping develop a culture of service on the campus and enhance community partnerships. In particular, the VISTA member’s activities will include 1) helping students actively work towards alleviating poverty, and 2) assisting faculty in recognizing the appropriateness and effectiveness of service-learning as a pedagogical tool. The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will strengthen the current relationships The Mount enjoys with various community partners, and will develop strategies to better inform and encourage current faculty to use service-learning with their students. Finally, the VISTA member will investigate the goals and operational practices of some of the best service-learning centers in Higher Education, with the aim of designing a model that will work best for Mount St. Mary’s so that the Mount will enhance its long-term effectiveness as a community partner.

PRINCE GEORGE’S COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Mary Nesbitt

Mary Nesbitt


Mary Goins Nesbitt, a South Carolina native, has worked as a high school English teacher, department chairperson, coordinator of several programs, and a high school administrator. She received her B. A. degree from Claflin University with honors, M.S. in Administration and Supervision, Johns Hopkins University and is taking a year's sabbatical from an Ed.D in Educational Administration and Policy. She, currently, serves as the Service-Learning Facilitator, Prince George's Community College where she is developing a collaborative program that will increase financial literacy awareness of juniors and seniors at Largo High School, Largo, Maryland and provide service-learning opportunities for students at Prince George's Community College. She, firmly, believes that her life is richly enhanced by working to "level the playing field for those unable to achieve that goal for themselves".

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will develop and coordinate a financial literacy program at Largo High School in Largo, Maryland, that will involve community college students and faculty volunteering to provide financial mentoring, tutoring, and workshops to high school students. The VISTA member will identify and contact appropriate community partners to help facilitate the program and will develop a supporting database of partnership information. By the end of the first year, the VISTA member will develop a showcase to highlight and celebrate the service-learning participants and their accomplishments. In the long-term, the VISTA member will work to build a vital service-learning program at the college with appropriate community partnerships to sustain the program at Largo High School and begin to replicate the program at other high schools.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY

Kayla Tufares

Kayla Tufares


Kayla Tufares is the VISTA Service-Learning Coordinator for Stevenson University. She is in the process of completing her BA from Stevenson University in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. As an undergrad, Kayla worked as a Lead Job coach for an agency providing care to adults with disabilities as well as taught a Career Exploration Class for students who had special needs. She served as a Facilitator for 10 years at a Leadership Seminar, HOBY and has devoted her time to volunteering within the community, and taught dance classes and motor skills trainings to children with physical disabilities.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will work through the Experiential Learning Center at Stevenson University to establish collaborative programs through Baltimore City public schools, particularly REACH!, that will enhance academic student success through tutoring, mentoring, career/college choices and other important issues relevant to the students and their community. The VISTA member will work with Stevenson students to enhance the communities in which they work through active participation in the schools and interaction with the students, their families, the faculty and staff at these schools. Increased academic success in the Baltimore City schools will decrease the issues of crime, drug use, and teen pregnancy prevalent in this age group. The VISTA member will also support Freshmen Seminar classes at Stevenson and engage with faculty at all levels to encourage more participation in service-learning across campus.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY

Kate Faris

Kate Faris


Kate Faris gained invaluable experience through conservation work in national forests and an orphanage in Costa Rica from January 2005 - April 2005, shaping the future of her studies. She attended Towson University where she received a BA in Business Administration with a focus in International Business and a minor in Spanish, graduating in May 2009. As an undergraduate student she studied in Spain and Mexico to improve her language skills. Through a year internship with Students Sharing Coalition, a Baltimore non-profit organization, she managed service-learning projects for high school students, as well as development events for the organization. This experience has confirmed her zeal for non-profit work and has recently committed to graduate studies in International Development.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member at Towson University will be responsible for continuing the foundation laid by the AmeriCorps*VISTA member in the first grant year. This includes establishing an institutional infrastructure to cultivate service-learning partnerships between the community and University. The VISTA member will connect community partners with faculty members and assist them in creating lasting service-learning projects designed to increase the capacity of the community partners while engaging more TU students in the community. The VISTA will recruit faculty and community partners, organize workshops and on-campus community “fairs” and ensure community needs are being met through evaluations. The VISTA will serve as the service-learning point person for faculty and provide them with assistance in developing and maintaining service-learning.

UNIVERSITY of BALTIMORE

Johnny Gamber

Johnny Gamber


Johnny Gamber is the University of Baltimore's AmeriCorps VISTA member. He collaboratives with staff, faculty and students to engage Central Baltimore. He works closely with community partners to identify engagement and service opportunities in the area and also with members of MICA, Goucher and JHU on the Central Baltimore Higher Education Collaborative, in an area on the cusp of intense revitalization. Johnny also serves on UB's Sustainability Task Force, to help the Central Baltimore community develop greener practices. Trained in philosophy, he received his BA in 2001 from Goucher College and MA in 2003 from Boston College. Johnny will complete work on his PhD at SIU Carbondale in 2010. In his spare time, Johnny edits one of Baltimore's largest cycling blogs, teaches outdoor skills to youth in North Baltimore and works as a cycling advocate.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will work with the developing Central Baltimore Higher Education Consortium (UB, Goucher, Johns Hopkins and MICA) on a range of issues in the heart of Baltimore City. UB’s close proximity makes Central Baltimore an ideal location for student, faculty and staff engagement. Under the supervision of UB’s Associate Provost for University Engagement, the AmeriCorps*VISTA member will work closely with community stakeholders, faculty, staff, and student leaders from the four campuses to determine needs and ways higher education may respond, particularly through service-learning and action research projects. The VISTA member will connect community partners with faculty and staff members as well as student groups and assist them in identifying and executing projects designed to improve quality of life issues and to expand the capacity of local organizations so they can address problems related to poverty in their neighborhoods, all the while engaging higher education partners with the communities of Central Baltimore. The VISTA will create a database of stakeholders and organizations in Central Baltimore, interface with community partners and attend community meetings, help with UB campus engagement activities and document outcomes. The VISTA will help implement a major community convening featuring participation from the communities and the four colleges and universities. The VISTA may work on other service initiatives such as the University of Baltimore’s annual Community Service Day.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE COUNTY

Melissa Fennell Huselton

Melissa Fennell Huselton


Melissa Fennell Huselton is the VISTA serving in the Service-Learning department of The Shriver Center at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Melissa earned her B.A. in English from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2006. After graduation, she moved to Japan for one year to teach English at Sanuma High School through the Japan Exchange and Teaching program. In 2008, she relocated to Ellicott City and worked as a community organizer for Clean Water Action, an environmental advocacy organization, where she developed a passion for civic agency. Melissa considers her current position to be an outlet for her two strongest passions, civic engagement and higher education.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member will work with The Service-Learning Program to recruit UMBC student volunteers, increase community partnerships, and develop self-sustaining service opportunities that bring the resources of UMBC to our local community members and partners. The VISTA member will be responsible for working in two communities: the UMBC campus and the local Baltimore community. Small and large scale service projects – designed for on and off-campus settings – will serve as an excellent way for community members to utilize campus resources to bridge the gap in access to essential components of academic success.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK

Jose Espejo

Jose Espejo


Jose Espejo is the VISTA for America Reads * America Counts, part of the Office of Community Service-Learning at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his BA in Government and Politics and Certificate in Latin American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park in the Spring of 2009. As an undergraduate, Jose was involved in various student organizations including the Latino Student Union as VP of Public Relations and VP of Culture and Programming. Jose was also involved in the University’s Alternative Break Program serving as a participant to Lima, Peru in the Spring of 2008 and as a Lima, Peru Trip Leader in Spring of 2009. Additionally, Jose worked for the Office of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy for two years as a Student Assistant.

Project Description: The AmeriCorps*VISTA member at the University of Maryland, College Park will work with the Partners in Print program. In this family literacy program, UM student mentors conduct bilingual workshops at local schools that are centered on ways parents can engage their children in reading at home. The VISTA will be directly responsible for coordinating all aspects of the program, including assisting with recruitment, selection, advisement, and training of student mentors and building and maintaining positive relationships with school partners. In addition, the VISTA will be responsible for laying the groundwork for future partnerships with additional schools and community agencies.