A year of service with Literacy AmeriCorps can be an important part of your career development and a great way to build your resume for future opportunities.
Sara Gershon, Class of 2013-14
Hi! I am Sara Gershon and I served with Literacy AmeriCorps from 2013-2014 as an Elementary School Reading Tutor. In addition to my role as a reading tutor, I was on the Member Development team, where I was able to cultivate my leadership skills by helping to plan and execute our weekly Friday Trainings. Since successfully completing from the program, I have been attending the University of Georgia School of Law, where I am pursuing a joint J.D./M.S. in Sport Management and Policy. In addition to school, I work as a reading comprehension mentor and writing center tutor for the UGA Athletic Association. In this position, I use the skills I learned as an AmeriCorps member every day. I have the pleasure of working with student-athletes, helping them to overcome some of the same hurdles faced by the students I tutored as an AmeriCorps members.
My time in this program was life affirming. I learned both that I did not want to be a teacher and that I would always find a way to serve the underserved populations in my community in a mentorship/educational capacity. People often think the draw to the sports industry is the money. For me, it is far from that. During my AmeriYear, I realized that what made me feel the most fulfilled day in and day out was working with those that lacked guidance or confidence and knowing I could help them to realize their full potential. My proudest moments in AmeriCorps were seeing my students take ownership of their progress and walk the school halls with pride. I get that same feeling working with student-athletes and hope to one day get that feeling working with professional athletes.
My advice to you is: Be open to every adventure. Take every opportunity you get, even if it doesn’t pay (a lot). You might earn something better in the experience itself. I know I did!
Brandon Carroll, Class of 2014-15
My name is Brandon Carroll and I am originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. I graduated in the spring of 2014 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where I studied Education and Sociology. I have always had a passion for helping people and helping students achieve.
I had the honor and privilege to serve as a Graduation Coach, and I loved every minute of it! Being that I have an education background and I have worked with students from Kindergarten all the way up to middle school, I figured I challenge myself and see if dealing with High Schoolers was really what I wanted to do in life. I can say it is safe to say that I learned a lot during my service year and it has helped shape me into how I want to spend the rest of my life.
My students taught me a lot more than I could ever teach them by opening up to me and allowing me to understand how hard it is sometimes for a high school student to graduate, and they would always thank me for just being there to support them through their own journey onto graduation.
When the service year was over, it was saddening to see a lot of the friends I made through AmeriCorps move away to different parts of the country to pursue other jobs, or education, or just life goals. However, staying down here in Palm Beach County was one of the best decisions I could have made for after my service year! I am currently the College Retention Coach for Take Stock in Children Palm Beach County, and as of the summer of 2016 I will become the Director of College Retention. Take Stock in Children gives out scholarships and mentors to low-income, at-risk youth, in order to instill hope in them that they too can go to college. My job is to help, advise and support the recipients of our scholarship from being high school seniors, all the way through college graduation!
I still am connected to AmeriCorps in spirit by many ways, from seeing new AmeriCorps members daily at my job, to visiting and bonding with old AmeriCorps friends that are still around. AmeriCorps will always have a special place in my heart, and as for my future plans, I am pursuing my Masters in Higher Education Administration and I know that one day I hope to work for a College or University in Admissions, Student Life, or even the Retention Department. I just know that no matter where life takes me, I will forever be grateful for the experience, the joy, and the laughter that my service year in AmeriCorps has given me. Thanks again for allowing me the opportunity to better myself as a person, and I will always continue to #GetThingsDone.
Michael Owen, Class of 2012-13 & 2013-14
I had the honor of serving with Literacy AmeriCorps for two years. During my first year, I served as a Job Readiness Instructor with The Lord’s Place, a non-profit organization that works to end the cycle of homelessness in Palm Beach County. My second year afforded me the opportunity to work side-by-side with a Language Arts/Life Skills teacher at EdVenture Charter School, a vocational institution that empowers 15-22 year olds with job skills and a renewed sense of self-worth.
Currently, I am serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, South America. I am living in a small, rural community on the Caribbean coast called Repelón. Here, I am serving as a teacher trainer and work closely with about three English teachers, helping them develop and refine their abilities to teach English to their students. Outside of working with these teachers, I also currently have three community English classes, in which members of the community have the ability to learn some basic English skills. In addition to these classes, I also work one-on-one with the local police chief, helping him improve his English abilities so he may receive a promotion in the future.
My time with Literacy AmeriCorps further solidified the fact that teaching is my life and my passion. AmeriCorps helped lead me to finally realizing my lifelong dream of serving with the Peace Corps. The values and sense of civic responsibility that I learned during my time in AmeriCorps have carried over to my service overseas. The confidence and leadership skills that I attained have made integration into my new community much easier and have helped me to be a successful contributor to those around me here in Colombia.
Janet Newton, Class of 2011-12
I served as a Literacy AmeriCorps member from 2011 to 2012, tutoring adult ESOL students. This program gave me experience serving others in a way I don’t think I could have on my own, particularly considering my newness to the professional world. Being at my primary site solidified my knowing I wanted to work with English language learners, but visiting others’ sites and arranging and participating in service projects exposed me to a wide variety of organizations I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to learn about. The professional development and dear friendships enriched my time in South Florida even further.
Following this year of service, I did a second with another literacy organization in Boston called Generations Incorporated. I then put my education award to use toward a Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina. I am currently working as an ESOL Tutor for a school district in Columbia, SC, serving students from kindergarten to fifth grade.
Andy Chiamopoulos, Class of 2010-11
Hi! My name is Andy Chiamopoulos and I was a Literacy AmeriCorps member in 2010-2011. During my service year I taught a GED program at Bridges Riviera Beach in the morning and provided reading tutoring to children at the Boys and Girls Club of Riviera Beach in the afternoon. Since completing my year in AmeriCorps, I graduated with a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University and have served in a variety of analytical roles for several organizations. Currently I am a Senior Analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where I help manage a project for the U.S. Treasury. I am also happy to say that I recently married my wife, whom I met while we were both Literacy AmeriCorps members!
My experience in AmeriCorps enlightened me to the issues currently faced by children and adults seeking a quality education, particularly those from low-income families, and weighed heavily on my decision to study public policy in graduate school. My service year also reinforced the importance of patience, having compassion, and showing respect to others, which are principles that will guide me over the course of my career.
Rondre Ashford, Class of 2011-12
After the completion of my AmeriCorps program, I accepted a position as an Assistant Residence Life Coordinator at Florida International University (FIU). After two years at FIU, I graduated with a Master of Science degree in Higher Education Administration. Currently, I live in Southern California, and I work at San Diego State University (SDSU) as a Residence Hall Coordinator & Judicial Officer. I honestly think that my AmeriCorps experience has helped shape my work ethic and caring attitude towards individuals I interact with. Additionally, AmeriCorps taught me the importance of being selfless, and the importance of working with others to reach a common goal. As an AmeriCorps member, I served as a Graduation Coach at Village Academy. I interacted with students as a mentor, and helped motivate students to achieve academic success. The skills I obtained by working as a Graduation Coach, have been transparent in my current position as a Residence Hall Coordinator & Judicial Officer. For example, I always make my students a priority, and I always make myself available when others are in need. I’ve gained an appreciation for the little things in life that we take for granted and embrace new challenges and opportunities. Overall, being a member of Literacy AmeriCorps helped me professionally, and I will never forget the importance of giving back and serving our community.
Literacy AmeriCorps led me onto a life path I never could have imagined prior to joining. During my service year at Glades Family Education in Belle Glade, I discovered my true passion: teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) to adult learners.
Today I am a full-time ESOL teacher at the Adult Education Center in West Palm Beach; I have my ideal job with an incredible community of co-workers. I accredit much of my good fortune to the abundance of opportunities and support I was given by the AmeriCorps coordinators and members, as well as the amazing connections I was able to make as a result of my volunteer experience.
Every day instead of saying that I “have to go to work,” I now say that I “get to go!” This sentiment is invaluable to me, and I am so grateful to Literacy AmeriCorps for helping me to realize my passion so that I can continue to share it with others now and in the future.
Bailey Lowenthal, Class of 2009-10
After finishing my year as a Graduation Coach with AmeriCorps I was hired at the school where I completed my service to design and implement a two tiered drop out prevention program. My year of service not only helped me obtain a full time job but it solidified my career aspirations. Working so closely guidance staff allowed me to explore a career option I may have otherwise dismissed. I went back to school and received my Masters in School Counseling at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Currently, I work as the Director of School Counseling at a new public charter school in Washington, DC.
Brandon Light, Class of 2009-10 and 2010-11
I had the privilege of serving two consecutive years with Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County. During that time I was able to have once in a lifetime experiences that changed my perspective on life. Tutoring children and teaching adult ESOL was unforgettable. AmeriCorps also gave me numerous social and career opportunities that I otherwise would not have had. It helped me to grow my professional network and ultimately secure a job at an amazing non-profit organization.
I am now the Manager of Resource Development at United Way of Palm Beach County and I could not be happier. It is rewarding to know that the work I do every day is helping to give individuals and families better lives. I know that I would not be where I am today if I didn’t join Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County!