Recent graduate Amanda Schuler '12 of Dalton, Mass., headed to Berkshire Community College (BCC) in July when she joined the Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA program.
Through the many outreach opportunities she's experiencing, Schuler is moving closer to her ultimate career goal of working at a college or in higher education.
According to Spencer Moser, coordinator of the Center for Service and Citizenship at MCLA, who encouraged Schuler to apply for the position after she graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in business administration, the move is particularly compelling as she works and invests in her own "back yard."
"It's important to make a positive contribution to my community, because if I don't, who will? If we don't all help to try and make our community better by just doing what we can, then it won't improve," Schuler said.
At BCC, Schuler gives students the opportunity to volunteer for local schools, non-profits, or government agencies through service-learning activities. She's mainly responsible for this work in public schools throughout the Pittsfield, Mass., area, as she puts together training for those who volunteer in the schools, to give them some insight on and information about they need to be aware of and what they may experience.
Schuler also is working to get the English Language Learners (ELL) program off its feet.
"This program will be at Allendale Elementary, Herberg Middle School and Pittsfield High School, where we are trying to get students to tutor there to help students that are new to the country and new to the English language," she explained.
At the Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC), she's helping to create a sustainable fundraiser. She's also making a video about the non-profit organization.
"The video will be a way to show others in the community why and what this organization does for its clients and why immigrants come here, as well as what they have to do to be able to be in this country," Schuler said. "Lastly, I am creating a manual phone survey to find and record clients' information on citizenship and possibly employment from becoming a citizen. These statistics will also help BIC show their funders what they are helping this organization gain in the long run and how important it is to stay open."
Schuler said her volunteerism as an undergraduate at MCLA with the College and the North Adams community through various clubs and organizations sparked her interest in the year-long AmeriCorps position.
Her efforts at MCLA ranged from helping with big events like Community Day and Wet Feet Week to her work as a peer advisor to students and her participation with the orientation process. Among many other club-related activities, she served as co-president of the Dance Company and started the Dance Festival Weekend, which brought in professionals and other teachers to give the Company, the campus and the community an opportunity to learn different types of dance.
A recipient of MCLA's Unsung Hero award because of her work with the student development office, Schuler consistently helped out wherever she was needed and got the job done.
"The biggest contribution wasn't what I gave MCLA; it was how much MCLA helped me that I am grateful for," Schuler said. "MCLA showed me more than I ever thought it could. Those four years taught me above and beyond what I thought I was going to learn. I would never change my entire experience of everything I did, to every opportunity and activity that was offered to me. I do stand by what MCLA says, 'My College. Right from the Start.'"