|Inspired to serve
Recent graduates join AmeriCorps
RELEASED: Sept. 18, 2003
DANVILLE, KYSix recent Centre graduates are putting graduate school and the job market on hold for a while in order to give back to their communities and country. Lindsey Blackwelder, Alex Blevins, Stephanie Casey, Angie Howard and Jennifer Rhorer, all 2003 graduates, and Dana Settles '02 have signed on for a year of service with AmeriCorps.
AmeriCorps is a federal program that helps bring individuals and communities out of poverty. The Centre graduates are part of nearly 6,000 AmeriCorps members who serve in non-profit organizations and public agencies throughout the country.
Howard, who is originally from Lexington, Ky., double majored in English and religion at Centre. She's now working for Habitat for Humanity in Franklin, Tenn.
She signed up with AmeriCorps, she said, because "I wanted to give back to some degree for all that I've received. A year of service was the way to go."
Blevins of South Pittsburg, Tenn., agreed.
A double major in history and religion, he put law school on hold for a year so that he could join AmeriCorps.
"My years at Centre actually were the inspiration for joining AmeriCorps," Blevins said. "I was exposed to so many valuable opportunities, ideas and people while at Centre. So when I sat on the Newlin Hall stage at graduation, I began to think about how I could use what I had seen and learned to help those less fortunate than myself."
Blevins is running an after-school program at Boyle County Middle School in Danville in which students receive extra help in mathematics and reading.
Rhorer, is also working in Boyle County at Junction City Elementary School. Her duties include recruiting volunteers and mentors and coordinating the after-school program for at-risk students.
The biology major from Frankfort, Ky., was a big sister through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program while she was at Centre and joining AmeriCorps was her way of helping the community that became her second home.
"If one child benefits from my work, then my year of service will have been worth it," Rhorer said.
Settles, a Danville native, was inspired to give back to her hometown after traveling and studying abroad in Ecuador and the South Seas while at Centre.
"After my experiences abroad I saw how necessary it was to help out my own country," she said. "I always think of people abroad who are in need. It had never occurred to me that there were problems in my hometown."
A double major in anthropology/sociology and art, Settles works at Woodlawn Elementary School in Danville helping students find mentors through Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
"Centre College influenced my decision to join AmeriCorps because I was shown how much dedication goes into teaching," said Settles, who hopes to become middle or high school educator. "Just by walking into a professor's office, you know that his or her life is in academia. They're so excited to open up their world of knowledge to students."
Blackwelder is working with a branch of AmeriCorps that addresses specific community needs, such as education, public safety, human services and the environment.
A religion major from Limon, Colo., Blackwelder will spend a year in Machias, Maine, working with an AIDS program. She'll be working with education, awareness, counseling, testing, and treatment services with AIDS patients, their families and friends. Blackwelder will also present programs at local schools and colleges.
"I wanted a job would make a differences in people's lives," she said.
Blackwelder and Howard were also influenced to join AmeriCorps by Rick Axtell, associate professor of religion.
"Thanks to Rick Axtell's classes, I became interested in social-justice issues and knew I had to get my hands dirty if I really wanted to make a difference in the world," Howard said. Citing Gandhi, she added, "You can't just study it from inside four wallsyou have to be the change you wish to see in the world."
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