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

2011-2012 AmeriCorps VISTAs

 

American University

Jordan Misra

Jordan Misra


Jordan Misra is from Montgomery County, Maryland. She stayed in the area and graduated from American University with a BA in International Studies with a concentration in Development and a minor in Economics. Jordan began her work in the D.C. community during her second year at American University when she became a DC reads tutor with the Heads Up program. She spent her last semester in Nairobi, Kenya studying abroad and working with income-generating youth groups. She is looking forward to investing further in D.C. area and hopes to continue working with community groups in the future on various urban issues.

Project Description: The DC Reads (DCR) tutoring program works to increase literacy levels in the Washington, D.C. area by recruiting volunteer tutors who will provide 1-2 hour tutoring sessions to students in grades K-10. The American University MDCC-VISTA helps DCR recruit and support American University student tutors by working with the Center for Community Engagement & Service (CCES) to increase program capacity in community partnership, best practices, program efficiency and impact, and leadership and sustainability. CCES also serves as a liaison between the DCR program and six community partners to assist them in tutoring outreach and program coordination.

Carroll Community College

Kimberly McShane

Kimberly McShane


Kimberly McShane is a New Jersey native who currently resides in Westminster, MD. She graduated from Carroll Community College in 2009 with an Associate's Degree in Arts and Sciences. She transferred to McDaniel College and graduated in 2011 with a B.A. in Sociology. As a member of the Hill Scholar Honor Program at CCC, Kim became very active in community service which continued at McDaniel. She has worked with Catholic Charities and other local nonprofits in her community and participated in an Alternative Spring Break to Franklin, WV. She values helping students expand their knowledge and skill sets, in and outside of a classroom. Kimberly looks forward to her year of service as a VISTA and later continuing her education with a M.A. in Counseling.

Project Description: The Carroll Community College MDCC-VISTA member develops and runs the GREAT Start Program (Graduation, Retention, Excellence, Academics, and Teamwork), comprised of 20 students, a program coordinator, and 8 peer mentors. The MDCC-VISTA's objectives include increasing students' financial literacy, coordinating service projects and mentoring, and facilitating a course entitled College Success. The MDCC-VISTA meets these objectives through regular class meetings, workshops, and personal mentoring sessions. She also investigates possible sources of scholarship funding for GREAT Start Program graduates.

Chesapeake College

Amanda Roman

Amanda Roman


Amanda Roman, an Illinois native, graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2011 with a B.S. in General Studies with an emphasis in Communications and Nonprofit Management. She also obtained a certificate in LGBT Studies. Amanda hopes to obtain her M.A. in Nonprofit Management or Social Work. She is very excited to be back east after completing a year of AmeriCorps*NCCC in Washington, DC. From this experience, her passion for community service grew immensely.

Project Description: The Chesapeake MDCC-VISTA Habitat for Humanity project expands a multi-year partnership serving two counties on Maryland's Eastern Shore. In conjunction with Habitat Choptank, the MDCC-VISTA focuses on capacity building, increasing financial literacy, coordinating local service projects, and volunteer recruitment and recognition. The MDCC-VISTA also helps in expanding a dialogue/working group concerning the creation of a permanent cold weather shelter on the Eastern Shore. Through the partnership with Habitat Choptank, the MDCC-VISTA also focuses on retention of students at Chesapeake College.

Coppin State University

Shayla Redfearn

Shayla Redfearn


Shayla Redfearn, a Baltimore native, became interested in AmeriCorps*VISTA after working for 7 years with at-risk teens through the Youth Opportunity Program of Baltimore. Shayla's passion is faith based service. She currently serves as a Youth Pastor/Leader to two Baltimore churches and is currently completing LSAT preparation courses with the hopes of attending Law School and taking advantage of a dual degree program in Criminal Law and Legal Psychology.

Project Description: The Coppin Heights-Rosemont Family Computer Center is one of only about twenty public computer centers in the country to be awarded a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and is the only award recipient in Maryland. The MDCC-VISTA is responsible for coordinating the service-learning component of the Coppin Heights-Rosemant Family Computer Center on campus. The Center has served over 4,000 families in the community by partnering with a myriad of community partners to provide technology instruction to residents in the community. The Center engages university students in service-learning through tutoring clients of the Center and assisting program instructiors through 7,500 hours of volunteer service.

Goucher College

Emily Dowdelle

Emily Dowdell


Emily Dowdell, a Pittsburgh, PA native, graduated from the Robert E. Cook Honors College at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2009 with a B.S.Ed. in Spanish Education K-12. As an undergraduate, she was an active member of IUP Ambassadors, studied abroad in Spain, and filmed a documentary, Roadtrip IUP. Before joining AmeriCorps, Emily taught high school Spanish in Pittsburgh and volunteered as an ESL tutor with the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.

Project Description: The Goucher College MDCC-VISTA member works with Goucher's Futuro Latino Learning Center, which acts as a bridge between the Baltimore County's Hispanic community's needs and the available resourches, some of which come from city organizations that are difficult for county residents to access. The Center has launched free computer literacy, English as a Second Language, and bilingual conversation classes to the Latino community. In addition, the Center offers a Kids' Culture Program and childcare. All classes are staffed by student volunteers and community members, thereby providing services that are local for Hispanic residents.

Hood College

Monique Sledd

Monique Sledd


Monique Sledd earned her B.A. in Psychology with minors in Biology and Sociology from Hood College in May 2011. As an undergraduate, Monique discovered her passion for helping others and giving back to her college and community through organizational leadership and service opportunities. Monique also took time to volunteer at the Boys' and Girls' Club of Frederick County with underprivileged children in the community.

Project Description: Hood College partners with Centro Hispano de Frederick, which has served over 1000 clients since it opened five years ago, most of who live below the poverty line in Frederick County. The MDCC-VISTA encourages Hood students to support this agency through ESOL classes, parent outreach, employment skill development, legal assistance, translation, and childcare support. She also develops a structured system to pair students with people in need, tracks volutneer student hours for recognition, monitors student performance and collaborates with Centro Hispano to ensure the client needs are being met by Hood student volunteers.

Johns Hopkins University

Lena Denis

Lena Denis


Lena Denis graduated from John Hopkins University with a B.A. in Anthropology and History of Art. During her sophmore year, she co-founded the Campus Kitchen at JHU, which remained a big part of her life throughout her undergraduate career. She strove to work under the premise that understanding people's culture is an integral component of understanding their problems, and since beginning her work with CKJHU, she has seen the importance of food systems to cultural networks. During her year as a VISTA, she hopes to help student groups and community members within and around Johns Hopkins promote more sustainable and healthy food systems that all of Baltimore can take part in and expand.

Project Description: The Campus Kitchen Project at Johns Hopkins University (CKJHU), housed within JHU’s Center for Social Concern, is part of a national food recovery program. The MDCC-VISTA serves as a Sustainable Food and Nutrition Coordinator to advise several student-run initiatives, including the Campus Kitchen at JHU (CKJHU). The MDCC-VISTA advises three CKJHU Student Coordinators and a student Leadership Team that will oversee the daily operations of the program, develops a small garden and nutrition program for youth, advises a student initiative that provides evening parent workshops on nutrition and diabetes, and continues to be a resource for other institutions in the state interested in establishing campus food recovery programs.

Loyola University Maryland

Jonathan Hourcade

Jonathan Hourcade


Jon Hourcade, a St. Louis native, graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in Business. His desire to leave the Midwest along with his interest in commercial development led him to his current position with Loyola University Maryland. After his service term, he hopes to join a non-profit organization or governmental agency focused on economic development. His interests include fitness, literature, and St. Louis and IU sports.

Project Description: The MDCC-VISTA works directly with the businesses along the York Road corridor on self-identified needs such as web site design, marketing plans, competitve analyses, and financial analysis to help build, grow, and promote them. He also partners with the Govans Business Association (GBA) and the York Road Partnership (YRP). He also assists with the recruitment, selection and training of Business student volunteers who work on projects to support existing businesses, as well as projects to attract new businesses.

Morgan State University

Tawana Banks

Tawana Banks


Tawana Banks, a Chicago, IL native, received her B.S. in Marketing at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. As an experience volunteer with various college access programs, she is looking forward to working with students and local nonprofit organizations to facilitate financial literacy initiatives in the Baltimore Community as the MDCC-VISTA Financial, Literacy and Student Retention Coordiantor for Morgan State University.

Project Description: The Morgan State University MDCC-VISTA works with the Office of Student Retention's Access Orientation Program (AOP). AOP provides first-generation, at-risk students and their parents with financial aid assistance including information about FAFSA, residence life, placement testing results, and academic advisement. In partnership with PNC Bank, the MDCC-VISTA helps to implement a financial literacy program for the freshmen and their families who participate in AOP. She also researches, develops, and delivers the financial literacy components of AOP, coordinates the service project with PNC Bank, recruits and coordinates peer mentors, and investigates possible sources of scholarship funding for AOP students.

Notre Dame of Maryland University

Gabrielle Hurley

Gabrielle Hurley


Gabrielle Hurley, a Silver Spring, MD native, received her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies with minors in Elementary Education and Spanish at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. During her undergraduate career, she was highly involved with JMU's Office of Community Service-Learning as the Youth and Adult Education Services Coordinator and Senior Service Coordinator for their community-based program. She was a participant and trip leader for two Alternative Spring trips to Lakeland, FL and Atlanta, GA as well. Gabrielle is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Project Description: The Sister’s Academy Partnership provides educational outreach, tutoring, and leadership education to fifth through eighth grade girls of limited economic means with the potential and motivation to be leaders in their communities. The MDCC-VISTA coordinates placement of Notre Dame student volunteers to provide educational outreach, and tutoring and leadership education for the Sisters Academy students. She also works to create a culture of civic engagement by developing a tracking and validating system for student service hours; enhancing volunteer recruitment, training, and retention; providing multiple additional community service opportunities per month; creating a weekly e-newsletter; promoting service learning among students and faculty; coordinating Notre Dame and Sisters Academy; and evaluating volunteer programs and services.

Prince George's Community College

Pearl Schell

Pearl Schell


Pearl Schell retired after working for thirty years for the Federal Government. As she climbed the ladder of success, she acquired a degree in Paralegal Studies. With this degree she became a Paralegal Specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs where she processed Veterans' disability claims. After retiring she volunteered for the Library of Congress, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and became a certified Literacy instructor. She hopes to return to school to pursue a degree in Accounting.

Project Description: The MDCC-VISTA member builds service-learning on campus via the Financial Literacy Program which provides financial mentoring, tutorting, and literacy workshops delivered by PGCC college students to local high school students. The high school students then develop their new financial skills further by facilitating financial workshops for grades K-8 students within Prince George's county in conjunction with PGCC college students. The MDCC-VISTA member develops and coordinates the community college student and faculty volunteers, and builds community partnerships to change financial skill levels of participants in grades K-12.

Stevenson University

Darcy Sullivan

Darcy Sullivan


Darcy Sullivan earned her B.A. in Sociology and Spanish from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. As an undergraduate, she volunteered much of her time to help the communities of Westminster and Baltimore. Before starting as a VISTA, she worked on an organic farm where she learned patience and to appreciate nature more fully. She hopes to continue to help people in any way possible throughout her career.

Project Description: The Stevenson University's MDCC-VISTA member works toward creating career education programs for veteran communities in Maryland. Although a variety of resources are available to veterans, many are not aware what these are exactly. Through the MDCC-VISTA resource, Stevenson University will directly address one critical area of need: career guidance. By doing so, Stevenson University will have a measurable impact on the lives of veterans returning from deployment and leaving active duty.

Towson University

Katelyn Victor

Katelyn Victor


Katelyn Victor is currently serving her second term as the AmeriCorps*VISTA at Towson University. In her first year, she served as the university's Service-Learning Coordinator, working to connect faculty with nonprofit organizations and engage students in the community through volunteer projects and programs. Prior to becoming the MDCC-VISTA at Towson, Katelyn served as an AmeriCorps Member in Columbus, OH. There, she worked with residents of an undersrved neighborhood to seek funding for youth programming, plan community events, and build relationships and promote revitilization. Katelyn received her B.A. in 2009 from The Ohio State University, where she studied Urban and Regional Geography, and Cultural Anthropology.

Project Description: The Towson University MDCC-VISTA takes part in The Cherry Hill Learning Zone Initiative which includes Towson University, Baltimore City government, the Baltimore City Public School System, and neighborhood groups. This partnership has leveraged its resources to build upon the Cherry Hill community's strengths to meet its needs and to nurture its potential in areas related to family, community, economic, and educational development. The MDCC-VISTA coordinates campus efforts and service projects to support educational, social and medical needs, as well as individual and community success in an at-risk community through this initiative.

The University of Baltimore

TaQuilla Martin

TaQuilla Martin


TaQuilla Martin, a Detroit, MI native, is a second year AmeriCorps*VISTA. Prior to moving to Baltimore, she served as a Financial Literacy Coordinator through Michigan Campus Compact, where she created a program to help youth become financially savvy and college ready. She received her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College and enjoys international travel as well as volunteering with organizations that support refugees.

Project Description: The University of Baltimore MDCC-VISTA member works in cooperation with the Central Baltimore Partnership to present weekly workshops on financial literacy. the workshops are directed towards four inner-city neighborhoods with the aim of reaching 500 community residents to help them make better informed financial decisions via financial education. The MDCC-VISTA coordiates the University of Baltimore work-study student instructors who are trained by the Maryland CASH (Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope) Campaign.

University of Maryland, College Park

(Partners in Print)


Paola Maria Hernandez Barón

Paola Maria Hernandez Barón


Paola Maria Hernandez Barón and her family are from Colombia. They came to the U.S.A when she was a young child. Paola graduated from Naval Academy Preparatory, but left the military route after knee surgery. She attended and graduated from the University of Maryland in December 2009 with a double degree: a B.A in Psychology and a B.A in Criminology Criminal Justice and double minors in Terrorism Studies, and Leadership Studies. While at UMD, she worked with the Partners in Print program during all of her undergraduate years. She is excited to continue to work with the program. Her interests and experiences are quite diverse, including academics/education, applied research, counterterrorism, law enforcement, athletics, and the arts. Paola believes in positive social impact through the improvement of communities, but most importantly the empowerment of individuals.

Project Description: The MDCC-VISTA continues to work with the Partners in Print (PIP) program for family literacy and ensure systems are in place to sustain it long term. UMCP student mentors conduct six bilingual workshops per year at local elementary schools on techniques that parents can use at home to help their pre K-2nd grade children to read. The MDCC-VISTA coordinates the PIP program by assisting with recruitment, selection, advisement, and training of an increased number of bilingual student mentors to support expansion of the program into new schools and building and maintaining positive relationships with school partners.

University of Maryland, College Park

Shane Bryan

Shane Bryan


Shane Bryan recently graduated from the University of South Dakota with a B.S. in Political Science and Communication Studies. He has always enjoyed being an active member of his community and started getting involved at a young age. While working with at-risk youth at a local community center, Shane realized that his passion was to provide outlets for youth to be able to succeed. As an undergraduate, he became involved with Alternative Week of Off-Campus Learning (AWOL), holding various roles within the organization, from participant to Board President, and realized the importance of hands-on service-learning. Other passions include local service, the outdoors and sports. Shane is looking forward to his new adventure as a MDCC-VISTA with the University of Maryland, College Park.

Project Description: The University of Maryland, College Park Community Serivce-Learning MDCC-VISTA member works with the Northwestern Connection Program and Center for Educational Partnerships program to increase educational attainment and graduation rates of underserved middle and high school students at two nearby local schools. The MDCC-VISTA also provides organizational structure to match UMCP students with the tutoring and mentioring programs. He also supports the University of Maryland chapter of America Reads*America Counts in Prince George's County elementary schools, through middle and high school, towards the goal of college matriculation.

Washington Adventist University

Jessica Harris

Jessica Harris


Jessica Harris graduated from the University of Toledo in 2010 with a B.A. in Psychology. During her undergraduate tenure, she developed a desire to give back to the community by involving herself in student organizations that encouraged service-learning and community engagement. Her eagerness to help at-risk youth became a focus after studying the effects of domestic violence on children, and spending time working with the "No Kids Left Behind" program. Before graduating, she worked as an AmeriCorps*VISTA, and wanted to continue to help make an impact in the community by rejoining the AmeriCorps team.

Project Description: The Washington Adventist University MDCC-VISTA coordinates the First-Generation Ambassadors Program, designed to provide support to first-generation WAU students, who represent 37% of the student population. The MDCC-VISTA member helps to select the Ambassadors, recruit and coordinate peer mentors, and present workshops for the Ambassadors and their parents. The MDCC-VISTA also coordinates the Computer Literacy Service Project with Adventist Community Service of Greater Washington (ACSGW) and identifies education funding sources for the Ambassadors.

Wor-Wic Community College

Golda Davis

Golda Davis


Golda Davis earned her M.A. in Human Development and Education at George Washington University and a B.A. in foreign languages at the University of Delaware. She worked as a Recreation Therapist at the N.I.H. in Bethesday, Maryland in the Neurology department, and as a Child Life Specialist Coordinator in the Pediatrics department at Georgetown University Hospital. She has volunteered with Operation Smile in Nicaragua, in the old and new D.C. jails and as the Committee Chairwoman for fundraising for the Roads to Recovery program based at Johns Hopkins University.

Project Description: The Wor-Wic Community College MDCC-VISTA is committed to helping expand Wor-Wic's service delivery to the community, while focusing on issues of poverty, unemployment, and education. The MDCC-VISTA works to develop a process to match community needs with student availability through identifying community entities, making contacts, defining specific community-focused needs, and matching these to available students. She also works with administration and faculty to further develop the service-learning initiative on campus that yields community service participants for one of Maryland's lowest income and employment areas.