2017-18 VISTA Project Bios
BALTIMORE CITY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Cora is a recent graduate from the College of William and Mary, where she earned her BA in international relations. As a student, she spent a semester in Morocco studying Arabic and participating in undergraduate research focused on youth radicalization and international aid flows. Cora has also interned for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Karamah-Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. Cora is excited to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Refugee Youth Project’s ArtWorks initiative in order to learn about the refugee process as well as gain experience working in a social enterprise.
Project: The BCCC/Refugee Youth project promotes economic growth and post-secondary education for refugee teens through the ArtWorks program, an arts-based social enterprise. The project focuses on increasing employment opportunities, increasing understanding of financial literacy, and providing a safe and structured environment for youth to reconnect to cultural traditions.
Catholic University of America
Laura was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. Her undergraduate education and experiences allowed her to explore her interests in helping vulnerable youth. In the future, her hope is to work with victims and survivors of human trafficking. Laura is excited to be serving with AmeriCorps because of the opportunity to make a lasting difference in youth’s lives.
Community College of Baltimore County
Laura is a native of Catonsville, MD and is excited to be returning to the Baltimore area to serve as a VISTA member. She recently graduated from College of Charleston with a BA in Communication and minors in Spanish and Theatre. Laura discovered her passion for service while participating in the Alternative Break program throughout college. During a fellowship at College of Charleston’s Center for Civic Engagement her senior year, she worked as a Program Coordinator for Alternative Break. During her time at the Center for Civic Engagement, Laura developed a strong interest in social justice education, and in the future she would like to continue working with college students in the areas of civic engagement and service learning.
Frederick Community College
Samantha is intimately aware of the power that language exerts on one’s everyday life. She has experienced linguistic discrimination first hand and is frequently underestimated for her rural Kentucky accent. After finishing her Master of Arts degree in Rhetoric and Composition at Eastern Kentucky University, Samantha decided to take a gap year before continuing with her post-graduate education. Samantha’s graduate work elucidated the link between the power of language and the powerlessness that comes with poverty. She is applying her knowledge to work at Frederick Community College by partnering with communities of English language learners to help construct the English as a Second Language to best fit the needs of the ELL community. Samantha’s goal is to design a program and outreach method that will empower ELLs rather than strip them of the culture and history which their voices carry.
Frostburg State University
Amber is originally from Cumberland, Maryland, but she currently resides in Frostburg, Maryland. Amber received a BS in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Frostburg State University. During her first year at Frostburg State, she was active in volunteer work through Echostars. While attending FSU, she had the opportunity to complete several internships and field placements at various locations in the local area including Bel Air Elementary School, Beall Elementary School, and HRDC Cumberland Street Head Start. During these placements, she had the opportunity to work with schools, students, and families from different socioeconomic backgrounds while planning and incorporating lessons for the students. She has future goals to get her Master’s Degree in Special Education.
Project: The Garrett College/Students In Need Group (SING) project expands grocery and clothing assistance, wellness education, financial literacy and educational workshops to benefit over 600 first-generation students and Garrett County community beneficiaries. By partnering with Garrett County social service agencies, the SING project will directly impact individuals living at or below poverty level.
Connie has spent most of her life in various states along the East Coast. She completed her BA in English at Brigham Young University and worked as a writer for several years before pursuing a Master’s in Nutrition Science and Policy from Tufts University, which she recently completed. Connie is interested in community nutrition and in improving nutrition policy and programming to positively impact people’s health on a broad scale.
Johns Hopkins University
Donte grew up in East Baltimore and was raised by grandparents. He graduated from Baltimore City College and went on to attend Coppin State College, which is Coppin State University today. After acquiring a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Coppin, Donte took the Praxis exam. He then worked in education until he decided to enroll at Loyola University, where he completed a Master of Education in Special Education. Donte had written two books, Legal Tender(2010) and The Sable Quill (2014), and is currently working on And Money Answereth All Things (2017).
Loyola University Maryland
Tyra was born and raised in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Starting in high school, Tyra developed the desire to work with youth. She hoped to be able to use her personal battles to empower and encourage. With this in mind, she pursued Psychology and received her BA from UMBC in 2014. After graduating, Tyra pursued several opportunities in youth development. Some of which include her work with Diamonds on the Rise (DOTR), where she served in several roles including being a Mentor, her role as a Child Health & Wellness Intern with the American Federation of Teachers in DC, and her role as an Outreach Coordinator VISTA at the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in DC. In August 2017, Tyra will begin the pursuit of her Masters in Social Work degree with a concentration on School Social Work. She looks forward to using this opportunity to expand on the skills she has already gained through past opportunities.
CCMA P20 CONNECTS Coordinator
Eleanor is a recent graduate of Hood College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. Born in Frederick, MD, Eleanor grew up near the Annapolis area before moving back to Frederick to attend college. While at Hood, she succeeded academically and made her mark on the campus. Eleanor was even featured on the Best of Hood webpage. She also continued to develop a passion for feminism and social justice. Her main love in life is writing, and she is especially excited to get to use that skill as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic.
Morgan State University
Brittany is a Philadelphia native. She graduated from Morgan State University with a B.A in Fine Arts. With the passion of creativity and artistic expression, she has instilled these components as the base of several programs and projects organized to get the youth engaged and approach situations with a unique flare. Brittany believes that creativity is the key to our youth being able to see that light even in rough situations. With six years of experience in coordinating youth programs and community art projects, she has developed great expertise in maintaining a productive learning environment for engaging youth.
Prince George’s Community College
Catherine is originally from eastern North Carolina. She started her undergraduate career at UNC-Chapel Hill and began pursuing a BA in Public Policy. While in pursuit, she has filled various employment positions. She has determined that working for the sake of earning income is not fulfilling enough—she has a strong desire to serve underrepresented communities and facilitate positive change towards empowering them. She further aspires to extend her acquired knowledge and experience back to her hometown as the opportunity arises in the future (before, during, or after completing her BA and MA in Public Policy). Catherine is a 2016 graduate of Prince George’s Community College and will be the Financial Coaching Program Developer within the Financial Empowerment Center at PGCC.
Sylvia is a recent graduate of Towson University with a BA in International Studies. She is passionate about using education as a tool for poverty alleviation. A 2016 Walter Sondheim Jr. Nonprofit Leadership Fellow, Sylvia has experience serving in the Baltimore Community through programs like Summer READS. Sylvia is excited for the opportunity to continue serving Baltimore communities through Towson University’s America Reads/Counts program.
Universities at Shady Grove
Melissa was born and raised in Silver Spring, MD. She is a 2016 graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in Community Health and minors in Global Poverty and US Latino/a Studies. As a first-generation college student with Thai and Guatemalan heritage, Melissa is passionate about access to health services and quality education in minority communities. Her first year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Universities at Shady Grove has expanded her knowledge and passion for higher education. She hopes to pursue a career in higher education with the goal of supporting underrepresented students as they navigate through barriers.
University of Baltimore
Jordan Borkoski is a recent graduate at the University of Baltimore where she earned her B.A. in Environmental Sustainability and Human Ecology. During at her time at UB, she co-founded the Urban Farming Association, working to educate the UB and Baltimore community on Urban Farming and to reduce the impact of food deserts. She also worked in UB’s Office of Transitions and Community Engagement where she helped organize community outreach events and coordinate with local non-profits.
UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE CEC
Philip is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, but moved to Baltimore to attend Johns Hopkins University. He recently graduated with a BA in Cognitive Science and a minor in Psychology. He is particularly interested in working to connect resources to those most in need of them, via the UMB Community Engagement Center.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE COUNTY
Alexis was born and raised in Frederick, Maryland. She is a recent graduate of the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina where she majored in International Studies with minors in Political Science and Psychology. While at school she studied various languages and was able to travel to the Middle East, which increased her interest in international and refugee politics. She was able to become the President of the Arabic Club and head a program for international students studying at her university. Through various organizations, Alexis has striven to increase the number of ethnic minorities on college campus’ and increase the information and networks available to minority students looking into higher education. In the future, Alexis hopes to be an advocate for refugee rights and international relationships with conflict-ridden countries.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK CASA
Delmis was born and raised in Washington DC and currently resides in Silver Spring, MD. She recently received a BA in Anthropology with a minor in US Latina/o Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Delmis aspires to help and support the Latina/o community within Prince George’s County and the broader DMV metropolitan area. She hopes to attend graduate school after VISTA service. In her free time, Delmis enjoys hiking, camping, and playing with her lovely black cat, Revan. She’ll be serving at the Leadership & Community Service-Learning (LCSL) at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she has worked for the past two years as an undergraduate student and federal work-study employee, so she knows the office will welcome her for an exciting VISTA term.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK SAFE
Elizabeth Lewis was born and raised in Severna Park, Maryland and recently graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English language and literature. During her academic career, she developed a strong passion for justice-related issues while serving at an anti-human trafficking non-profit organization in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and later working as a teaching assistant for the university’s course on human trafficking. Having dedicated her professional career to pursuing restoration for individuals who have been victimized by the atrocities of human trafficking within the United States, she is now thrilled to serve as an MDCCC – VISTA and thereby further the University of Maryland SAFE Center’s endeavors to supply survivors of trafficking with the services necessary for sustainable economic empowerment.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE, MADE
Diamond is a native of Silver Spring, Maryland. She went to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), where she received her B.S. in Biology. During her undergraduate term at UMES, she was able to explore all aspects of science while mainly dabbling in biology and horticulture. Diamond has worked as a general research assistant at her university, studying the various applications and the phytochemical content of Aronia mischurnni, a unique berry native to Maryland (in the US). Her passions ultimately lay in horticulture, nutrition, and public health, and leading others to enrich their own knowledge in such.