Friday, August 7, 2015

Meet the 2015-16 VISTAs!

We are excited to introduce our 2015-16 cohort of NC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTAs who started their first day of service today. We have thirteen new members, who were selected from over a pool of over 85 candidates, and we also have five returning members as well. Our brand new VISTAs returned from PSO in Atlanta only yesterday and we are looking forward to having all our members at Elon University on August 27th-28th for a day and half of orientation. We thank all our members for their commitment to service and are looking forward to another inspiring year!

We asked our VISTAs to share a little more about themselves including what motivated them to become a NC Campus Compact VISTA, what they are looking forward to most this year and their favorite free time activities!

Shannon Barr
Host Site: High Point University
Focus Area: Education 
Hometown: Lexington Park, MD
Graduated from: High Point University with a major in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology 

 I became a NC Campus Compact VISTA to contribute to a shift in campus culture, to increase access to educational opportunities for youth, and to gain skills that will serve me as I continue to pursue my passions after VISTA.
 I am looking forward to seeing the college students with whom I work continue to challenge themselves and grow.
 I love to hang out at local coffee shops or find local festivals, concerts, or spoken word poetry events going on in the Triad.

Victoria Binder

Host Site: 
High Point University
Focus Area: Healthy Futures
Hometown: Pleasanton, CA
Graduated from: High Point University with a major in Business Administration

 Food insecurities in High Point, North Carolina motivated me to become a VISTA.
 Looking forward to working with the Washington St. Project to alleviate hunger through planting community gardens 
 Favorite free time activities: Hiking and traveling 

Justin Brantley
Host Site: Feast Down East
Partner Site: UNC Wilmington
Focus Area: Healthy Futures
Home Town: Wilmington, NC
Graduated from: UNC Wilmington with a major in Public Sociology and
Minor in Psychology 

 I am re-enrolling as a second-year VISTA with NC Campus Compact out of my desire to learn more about the community to better serve it.
 I'm looking forward to reaching new beneficiaries at different sites.
 Favorite free time activity: playing guitar.

Elizabeth Busby
Partner Site: Various Winston-Salem agencies
Focus Area: Education
Home Town: Fayetteville, NC
Graduated from: Wake Forest University with a major in History with and double minor in Politics and International Affairs, and English.

 I am passionate about economic justice, and intend to pursue a career in economic law.
 I am looking forward to strengthening financial literacy, advocacy, and economic justice tools within Winston-Salem this year.
 I like to read, blog, go on runs, and spend time with good friends in my free time.

Meghan Engstran
Host Site: Meredith College
Focus Area: Education
Hometown: Andover, MN
Graduated from: University of Minnesota Duluth with a major 
in Political Science

 My desire to serve motivated me to become a NC Campus Compact VISTA and to serve a second year. 
 I am looking forward to continuing my project this year.
 I love water activities!  

Ethan Flynn
Focus Area: Economic Opportunity
Home Town: Marion, NC
Graduated from: Appalachian State University with a major in Sociology

 Sociology has guided me toward social and human services. My choice to become an NC Campus Compact VISTA came from learning how this AmeriCorps program can help me continue the type of work I have passion for. 
 I am most looking forward to putting my best effort into making my project successful and enjoyable. I already love the organization I am going to be working for, and I couldn't be happier to begin something new with them. 
 In the cold months I snowboard as much as possible with a close group of friends. Being on a snowboard has been my getaway for the past few years, and I can't imagine living anywhere other than the mountains.

Rachel Glasser
Focus Area: Education
Hometown: Columbia, SC
Graduated from: Furman University with a BA in English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Wake Forest University with a MA in English

 I'm hoping to build a career in education and the nonprofit sector.
 I'm looking forward to growing as a writer, teacher, and activist, meeting new people, and using my education and expertise to impact my community.
 I like to read, run, and update my blog.

Erin Karpovich
Partner Sites: West End Ministries
Focus Area: Healthy Futures
Home Town: Ramsey, NJ
Graduated from: High Point University with a major in Human Relations and minors in Non-Profit Leadership and Management, Spanish and Leadership.

 I enjoy community development and empowering others.
 I am looking forward to bridging gaps between the University and the city to increase involvement and understanding of both sides this year.
 I love to travel! :)
 I love meeting new people and am excited to share this experience with so many!

Matthew Kauffmann 
Focus Area: Economic Opportunity
Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC 
Graduated from: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a major in Philosophy 

 I'm passionate about civic engagement and higher education
 I'm looking forward to helping CEF with its strategic plan and with its data and analytics.
 Favorite free time activity: Running! 

Zachary Kopkin 
Focus Area: Economic Opportunity
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Graduated from: Appalachian State University with majors 
in Anthropology/Peace Studies and Civic Engagement

 Service-learning was an essential element of my college experience. 
 Looking forward to being involved in and learning alongside a new community, contributing to a very unique project and perspective on community that bridges past and present to advocate for justice.
 I like to hike and play the mandolin.

Allison Plitman
Partner Site: Backpack Beginnings
Focus Area: Healthy Futures
Home Town: High Point, NC 
Graduated from: UNC-Asheville with a major in International Studies, and minors in Africana Studies and Sociology 

 My volunteering work in the larger Asheville community, including hosting volunteering events for my student clubs motivated me to become a VISTA. 
 Looking forward to having new experiences, growing as a person, and meeting new people most this year!
 I love to craft; I can etch glass, knit, crochet, make dream catchers, paint, etc.

Kenya Shakir
Focus Area: Education
Hometown: Fayetteville, NC
Graduated from: Eastern Carolina University with a major in Sociology

 Service motivated me to become a NC Campus Compact VISTA.
 I am looking forward to impacting the community and making connections this coming year. 
 I like to watch movies in my free time.

Lizzie Shepard
Partner Site: West Greenville Community Youth-Based Partners
Focus Area: Education
Hometown: Walkertown, NC
Graduated from: Queens University of Charlotte with a major in Psychology

 I enjoy giving back to the community and I was encouraged to join by a past VISTA.
 I am looking forward to help those in need and to be a positive role model while gaining experience this year.
 I like to spend time with friends in my free time.

Jade Umberger
Partner Site: Greenville Harvest
Focus Area: Healthy Futures
Home Town: Mt. Sterling, Illinois
Graduated From: Illinois State University with a major in Family & Consumer Sciences: Food, Nutrition, & Dietetics

 Volunteering on various Alternative Break trips in college, and my love of community and sharing resources motivated me to become a VISTA.
 I am looking forward to meeting new people and making a lasting impact this year.
 I enjoy reading (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter), making food for/with friends, and trying new things in my free time.

Natasha Vos
Partner Site: Various Winston-Salem agencies
Focus Area: Healthy Futures
Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC
Graduated from: North Carolina State University with a major in Animal Science and Poultry   Science

 My commitment to service and working as part of a university community to engage students motivated me to serve a second year as a NC Campus Compact VISTA.
 Looking forward to exploring more of Winston-Salem, expanding on Campus Kitchen partnerships and running a marathon this upcoming year.
 Favorite free time activity: Running. All of the running.

Rachena Webb
Host Site: Degrees Matter!
Focus Area: Education
Hometown: Raleigh, NC 
Graduated from: Eastern Washington University with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies and a minor in African Studies 

 I loved working as a VISTA making a difference  in my local community  and I felt  that  being a NC Campus  Compact VISTA I could help build a stronger relationship  between college campuses  and the local community. 
 I believe that if we can educate the community that we are in, then it will be easier to mobilize ourselves for change.
 I am excited about working at my site because I am passionate about my agency’s mission. 
 I am looking forward to building better relationships with the parents and colleges as well as following the success of all the families involved.
 Favorite free time activity: star gazing.

Annah Wells
Partner Site: The Community Table
Focus Area: Healthy Futures
Home Town: Asheboro, NC
Graduated from: NCSU with a major in English  
 I served last year with another education-focused AmeriCorps program in Miami, FL. I loved the experience and wanted to strengthen communities by serving a second year with AmeriCorps. 
 I chose NC Campus Compact because I want to help college students realize the potential they have to be forces of social change.
 I'm looking forward to learning from and working alongside the wonderful staff at the Center for Service Learning at Western Carolina.
 I love to read when I have free time; there are so many books I want to read that I'm usually reading 3-4 at a time. I also can't wait to enjoy the outdoor activities in the mountains of Western NC.