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Syracruse native sent to Huntington through AmeriCorps Vista

The Parthenon

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 21:04

Joanna Young, 21, was born on August 19, 1990 in Syracuse, New York.

In 2011, Young moved from her home to Huntington to start her job as AmeriCorps Vista for the Service Learning Program at Marshall University.

Young went to college in upstate New York for psychology where she focused on her academics. Now, Young said she wishes she had been involved in more community service projects and organizations because she really enjoys her job at AmeriCorps Vista.

“That’s what led me here,” Young said. “I really wanted to be involved in something bigger. As AmeriCorps Vista, I do a lot of volunteering and community service. Each task might be small, but every day I do something little that adds to the big picture, and that’s rewarding.”

Being a native of New York, one might experience a bit of cultural and climate differences moving so far away from home.

“I really enjoy the warm weather,” Young said. “It’s so sunny here. Everyone here is so welcoming and kind. The first time I had ever tried sweet tea was when I came here — now I can’t get enough of it.”

Young is a part of a four person staff at the Service Learning Center with Pamela Holland as program director, Jenna Eatmon, graduate student, and Laura Kemp as the community federal work study coordinator.

Pamela Holland, program director of Marshall’s Service Learning Center, worked with Joanna this year inside the office and during outside projects.

“Joanna has proven to be the perfect addition to Service Learning Team,” Holland said. “While we rarely sit in the Service Learning office together, we work independently and collaboratively on a variety of tasks to meet the mission of the program. As Joanna is from New York, it is amazing how she has stepped in as if she were a long-time resident of Huntington.”

Young said she heard about the AmeriCorps Vista position through applying for West Virginia Campus Compact. She said one day she wanted to work in a college so she started looking for the jobs available that would give her that type of experience.

Upon applying for AmeriCorps Vista positions, Young interviewed for the Vista position at WVU first before landing the position at Marshall. Young is the third and final AmeriCorps Vista that Marshall will host. During her stay at Marshall, she is expected to work towards three primary project goals. Her goals include:  Strengthening organizational and human capacity in low-income communities by engaging campus volunteers, assisting low-income communities and organizations striving to address the causes and impacts of poverty through the acquisition and management of funding resources and creating methods to improve community service quality by campus volunteers and strengthening connections between low-income communities and existing organizations and agencies by working to deepen campus community partnerships with a special focus on partnerships that focus on economic health and revitalization of communities.

Being the last AmeriCorps Vista, Young also works on trying to make the projects sustainable just in case the Service Learning program will not be able to get approved for funding for another year of hosting an AmeriCorps.

Marshall is a member of the West Virginia Campus Compact. Each year West Virginia Campus Compact has a set number of Vista’s stipend awards. At the end of each year, the supervisor Vista — in this case the Service Learning program director ­­— files a report which includes the goals that were reached and the continued needs that will justify the need for another year of hosting a Vista.

Young said she really enjoys working with college students on projects outside of the office.

“The college atmosphere is so great for my type of work because most students are so motivated to be involved in something,” Young said. “In high school, a lot of times people are forced to do something, but in college, people are here because they want to be. I just love that students are here to build themselves and improve their lives.”

In the future, Young wants to pursue some type of higher education. She said she plans on moving back to New York after this year to complete a master’s degree but after hearing of her parents plans to retire and move to Florida, Young says she plans to apply to Marshall’s Graduate School to pursue a master’s degree in counseling.

“As much as I love my job now, I hate being in the office,” Young said. “I would  prefer seeing kids all day and having one on one interaction.”

Young said she enjoys traveling, meeting new people and trying new things. Young said she plans to visit and live in other areas of the country — or maybe even the world —  in the future.

Ashley Foster can be contacted at


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