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Driven by Dreams, Accomplished through Self-Advocacy

JV AmeriCorps member Maria Watson (Portland, OR ’16-17) serves as the Transitions Program Support Specialist with Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and Rosemary Anderson High School in Portland, Oregon. Maria shares her story of serving with opportunity/at-risk young adults to promote economic empowerment through college readiness.

The funny thing about college is that tens of thousands of people go every year, and yet no one ever really and truly seems to be “college ready.” When I went to college, I would have described myself as independent and resourceful. Yet, after not checking my email all summer before my freshman year, I showed up 6 hours late to move in and had a half hour to move into my dorm room before orientation events began.

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Portland Community Mates

Four years and four months later, I’m a college grad and a JVC Northwest AmeriCorps member serving opportunity/at-risk young adults who are making intentional moves towards self-sufficiency. Often, this involves supporting and promoting an important measure that, in my experience, happens to be pretty vague and arbitrary – college readiness.

During the fall term, I supported four of our students with an Introduction to College and Healthcare Bridge Program. The program offers an Introduction to Healthcare class at Portland Community College and an internship with Providence Health & Services to provide valuable and applicable tools and experiences for career discernment immediately upon starting college. Over the past four months, the healthcare bridge students have redefined my understanding of college readiness, teaching me that the power of confidence in self-advocacy is the most important factor of success – but the only way to refine those soft skills is to practice.

These women have faced language, academic, and financial barriers and have been able to overcome many of those by utilizing their voices and their resources. Their unwavering determination and motivation led them to ask questions and make pragmatic decisions driven by their dreams for themselves. There seems to be a plethora of resources available to current and aspiring college students, so a willingness and confidence to “show up” and utilize those resources is something that has set these young women apart.

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’16-17 JV AmeriCorps member Maria with POIC students

In one term of college, they have gracefully handled communication with professors, academic advisers, career coaches, scholarship donors, and financial aid consultants. This has escalated their success and experience with college more than I ever would have predicted. Now that they can advocate for themselves professionally and effectively with confidence, it seems to me that there’s nothing these women can’t accomplish when they set their minds to it.

Through this experience I have discovered how difficult it would be to face college without support. In providing college-readiness support to others, I have realized how much I relied on support systems to prepare me for college and life overall. I was raised in an environment that inherently expected college-level achievements, so my aspirations felt normal, and therefore I took my strides and support systems for granted. Being able to celebrate the successes of these women alongside them has reminded me of the shoulders I stood on to get to where I am today. Supporting these future nurses and midwives has truly been an honor.

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Upcoming Virtual Events

Get to Know JVC Northwest

Tuesday, September 28 | 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT 

Join us to learn all the basics about a year of service in the Pacific Northwest, including where you can serve, what you might do, and how to apply. Our Recruiter, Zayna, will also share her experience as a JV in both Alaska and Montana. Finally, we’ll open it up for an informal Q+A. 

How to Make Your Application Stand Out

Wednesday, October 6 | 6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT

How can you position yourself to be a strong candidate for JVC Northwest? We’ll share tips and tricks to help you navigate the application, interview, matching, and placement process. We’ll also leave plenty of time for Q+A.  

Zayna Abusada

(She/her/hers)
JVC Northwest Recruiter

Zayna Abusada (Ashland, MT ’17-18, Anchorage, AK ’18-19) was most recently a JV in south-central Alaska serving with immigrant and refugee English-Language learners as the Academy for Citizenship and Civics Support Specialist with the Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) in Anchorage. Zayna first served with Indigenous students on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Zayna went on to earn her undergraduate degree in History and Theological Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies at Saint Louis University.

Catch Zayna at an Event Near You!

September

9/8/2021Saint Mary’s College (IN)VirtualFall Career Fair
9/9/2021University of Notre DameVirtualFall Career Fair
9/13/2021University of DaytonIn PersonFall Career Fair
9/14/2021University of Notre DameIn PersonFall Career Fair
9/14/2021Saint Joseph’s UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/15/2021Saint Louis UniversityVirtualAll Majors Career Expo
9/16/2021University of DaytonVirtualFall Career Fair
9/17/2021Creighton UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/17/2021Georgetown UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/20/2021University of Wisconsin-MadisonIn PersonPublic Service Fair
9/21/2021Whitman CollegeVirtualCareer & Internship Fair
9/21/2021University of San FranciscoVirtualCareer Premiere: Service Careers
9/22/2021Le Moyne CollegeVirtualFall Job and Internship Fair
9/22/2021Marquette UniversityIn PersonFall Career & Internship Fair
9/23/2021University of IowaIn PersonHelping, Health, & Public Service Industry Career Fair
9/23/2021Boston CollegeVirtualFall Career & Internship Fair
9/23/2021Xavier UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/29/2021Santa Clara UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair Bash
9/29/2021Fairfield UniversityVirtualFall Career & Internship Fair
9/29/2021DePaul UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair (Day 1 Only)
9/30/2021Providence CollegeVirtualFall Career Expo
9/30/2021Saint Martin’s UniversityVirtualInternship & Service Fair

October

10/5/2021Pepperdine UniversityVirtualCareers with Social Impact Fair
10/6/2021Saint Mary’s College (CA)VirtualCareer & Internship Fair
10/7/2021Loyola New Orleans/UNOVirtualJoint Fall Job & Internship Fair
10/7/2021Spring Hill CollegeVirtualBadger Career Expo Day 2
10/13/2021Gonzaga UniversityIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
10/13/2021Ohio UniversityVirtualGovernment, Nonprofit, and Service Fair
10/16/2021Ignatian Family Teach-InVirtualBreakout Session and Exhibiting
10/18/2021University of DaytonVirtualBeyond UD Fair: Post Graduate Volunteer Programs