Natalie Mays is bubbling over with excitement. About a month ago she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and applied for a position through Americorps, “the domestic Peace Corps.” Soon thereafter she was chosen over sixty-nine other applicants to work in a paid position for the Alaska Network of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Legal Advocacy Project (ANDVSA) in Juneau, Alaska.
The head lawyer at ANDVSA quickly snatched-up Natalie, indicating that the education and experience Natalie garnered through Dominican made her an exceptional candidate. Her minor in Women and Gender Studies; her hotline experience with the Marin Abused Women’s Service, begun in Julia Van Der Ryn’s “Self, Community and Service” course; and her culminating Senior Project, a police training program she researched and developed on domestic violence and delivered to the Santa Clara Policy Academy, made her the perfect fit.
Achieving a college degree was no small accomplishment for Natalie. She has learning differences and suffered some profound personal issues along the way. She even flunked a class at one point. Yet she didn’t let that deter her. She persisted and that, she says, is what matters. “School’s rough,” she warns, “but stick it out. Cry, complain, but don’t quit!”
“This place really does change people,” she gushes. “I want to especially thank Julia Van Der Ryn, Phil Novak, Kathryn Mulholland, and Harlan Stelmach.”
Asked for more detail, she said, “Julia is full of passion for social justice and is deeply committed to service. She inspired me and showed me that a mind can change and work differently. Also, Service-Learning gave me a sense of direction and allowed me to find my own passion. Phil’s gentle confidence and depth of knowledge is so impressive and his world’s religions course sparked my interest in women’s issues, which led to my WGS minor. Kathryn is the best cheerleader ever. She really helped me stick it out despite my learning issues. And Harlan’s method of deep inquiry, while it can be uncomfortable at the time, forces you to come to your own conclusions and find your own way. And, most important, all of them refused to let me slack off. A learning disability is not an excuse to fail.”
Above all, Natalie wishes to thank her family for their constant support. “They are always there for me,” she indicates, “always ready to help me make it through the rough spots.”
The mission of Americorps, according to their web site, is “to strengthen communities and develop leaders through team-based national and community service.” They provide many excellent opportunities for qualified candidates to jumpstart a meaningful career and provide valuable service to our nation. For more information, go to: http://www.americorps.gov.
Update: Natalie completed her one year contract with Americorps and was hired by a law enforcement unit in Virginia. Congratulations, Natalie!