We are excited to begin featuring AmeriCorps Alumni across West Virginia! AmeriCorps alum are everywhere, and make up a vast network of professionals ranging from nonprofit employees to educators to higher education professionals, like this month’s featured alumna, Laura Lucas-Messer.
Laura began her journey with AmeriCorps in 2017 as a VISTA serving at WVU Tech in Beckley. Like many AmeriCorps Alumni, the opportunity to serve her community through National Service wasn't originally part of her plan, but when the opportunity presented itself, Laura knew that it was the right path to take.
We asked Laura some questions about her service and how it has driven her career:
How did your AmeriCorps service lead you into the next step in your career?
AmeriCorps was a yes I wasn’t expecting but am so thankful for. My position as a VISTA at WVU Tech was so valued that [following my service] there was a full time position created as a Coordinator of Service and Outreach [which Laura currently fills!].
What is your most memorable moment as an AmeriCorps VISTA?
As a VISTA at WVU Tech I created Alternative Spring Break. During this week, 12 students stayed in the very community they called their college home instead of going home or off on a Spring Break trip, and served to a greater level than they could on a quick evening service project. I saw that as much as the students tried to give back to the community, they were gaining so much more as individuals and likewise for myself. Relationships and understanding was built to such a beautiful level with students who before this trip most didn’t even know each other. I have witnessed these students change their community for the better -- but likewise the community has been a valued investment in them. My favorite things overall are the relationships I have made and seeing the difference I have been able to make in those around me and all because of a crazy, unexpected yes to being an AmeriCorps VISTA.
What advice would you have for someone interested in AmeriCorps but not sure whether to pursue the opportunity?
Know your why. What you are doing and where may always come with challenges. But your why holds strength when you have none, wisdom when you’re unsure and hope when you are overwhelmed. If you want to make a difference in your community, if you want to explore opportunities after college, if you have experienced the help of someone else giving and you now want to give back to others. Then why not be a VISTA and let changes happen in you and this nation.
What lasting effect on the community did your service have?
There is a beautiful relationship between WVU Tech and the surrounding community. I have seen students, faculty and staff really make this place their home. I have seen both the community and the Golden Bear community step up and help one another in amazing way and the match maker its been a blessing to see that relationship be in continuous growth.
If you would like to connect with Laura, who currently works as the Coordinator for Service and Outreach at WVU Tech in Beckley, you can reach her by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are incredibly proud of the AmeriCorps alumni in WV who choose to keep giving even after their AmeriCorps service! Do you know an AmeriCorps Alum that should be featured by Volunteer West Virginia? Send their information to Christina Cochran
, AmeriCorps Training and Outreach Officer.