Emily recently began her AmeriCorps service year with Maryland Youth & the Law (MyLaw) in Baltimore City, what follows is her journey to Volunteer Maryland.
In the spring of 2018, Emily graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in health sciences with the intention of becoming a physical therapist. With her car and a U-Haul packed with furniture and pictures of her cat Charlie, she made the four-day drive to her new home in Baltimore. Her exposure to the unique challenges faced by urban communities, and an introduction to those organizations which seek to ameliorate them, came through volunteering with a nonprofit called Back on My Feet. Through running, social support, and workforce development, this organization combats homelessness and addiction in 13 cities across the United States. Captivated by the power of such an organization to turn the lives of those experiencing such hardship around, from homelessness and addiction to running marathons, Emily sought to better understand those determinants of health which fuel inequities, particularly within urban communities, through pursuit of a graduate degree in public health. Gaining momentum and finding her voice as a catalyst of social change, she sought an opportunity to give back to her community on a broader scale – through developing the capacity of a nonprofit organization to best serve its constituents. In doing so, she saw a chance to make a visible impact on the community she now called home and its members whom she considered as neighbors.
Emily’s commitment to a year of service with AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland is prompted by her commitment to social justice. Experiences in health care, education, and social services exposed her to those socioeconomic, racial, and gender inequalities she now found the power to mediate. The most important lesson learned through these experiences is that each individual is capable of meaningful, sustainable change if given opportunities to experience conflict, formulate solutions, and reflect upon those processes. In considering her next adventure, in the interim between her master’s degree and law school, she sought an opportunity that provided this experience and reflection and would not only pay the bills, but also pay it forward. Giving back to its community shifted her perception of Baltimore – through this position with AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland, she hopes to guide volunteers to the same realization.
Emily has two priorities this service year: to give back to her community by building the capacity of an organization to serve it and to gain practical experience that may support her future career as a policymaker. Her deep-rooted appreciation for both the law and education may drive her efforts in community outreach and volunteer engagement. She is eager to use her newfound voice for social change to forge relationships with volunteers and program participants in an attempt to instill in others the same belief in the power of collective movement to evoke sustainable, meaningful change that drove her to serve with AmeriCorps.