Author Archives: Ellie Carr

Celebrating National AmeriCorps Week: Luna Shen ‘19.5

This week, we are celebrating National AmeriCorps Week by highlighting recent Middlebury graduates currently serving as AmeriCorps members in Addison County!

AmeriCorps is “a network of national service programs, made up of three primary programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement.” Members, including some of our recent Middlebury graduates, commit to serving the community by engaging in youth and mentoring, fighting poverty, increasing academic achievement, and more. 

The state of Vermont produces the 3rd highest rate of AmeriCorps members per capita! We are proud of our alumni who contribute to that ranking and the role that their community engagement experiences as students played in their decisions to serve as AmeriCorps members in Addison County.

Read below to learn more about AmeriCorps member spotlight, Luna Shen ‘19.5, and her trajectory from student to AmeriCorps member with John Graham Shelter in Vergennes.

What did you study at Middlebury, and how were you involved on campus?

I studied Sociology and was heavily involved with visual arts while at Middlebury College. I was also Chair of the Charter House student organization, and involved with a Fall Dance Concert and a collaborative arts piece.

How did community engagement shape your time as a student at Middlebury? 

I have been involved in the community in a variety of different ways. Perhaps my longest and most profound connection is with Charter House Coalition. I volunteered weekly at Charter House Coalition since my first year at Middlebury College. I was also a J-Term intern at Charter House and served as the Chair of the Charter House student organization on campus. I also spent a summer interning with HOPE. In addition to working with local non-profits, I do CrossFIT with a group of college and non-college affiliated community members and attend Middlebury’s Congregational Church.

Being a part of all these groups has led me to see familiar faces wherever I go in Middlebury. As an introvert and not too outgoing person, it has been a nice surprise to see so many people I know around town. 

How did these experiences deepen your understandings of civic engagement and service?

My experiences in the community have widened my understanding of what it means to be an engaged citizen. To me, being an engaged citizen means caring for the people around me, and it doesn’t have to take the form of explicit social service work. Service looks like so many things!

I’ve also learned that service is difficult because so much of it requires me to purge my own misconceptions and see and reflect on my blind spots — When am I impatient? Why am I being snappy? Why is it hard to practice self-care?

Being an engaged citizen means caring for the people around me, and it doesn’t have to take the form of explicit social service work!

Luna Shen ‘19.5, AmeriCorps Member

My understanding of service has shifted in that I am asking myself what I get excited about and what I am proud of having done after a day’s work. Knowing what excites me helps with sustaining service. For example, I do visual art, and I’ve been able to bring that into my work with John Graham shelter!

What led you to decide to serve as an AmeriCorps member with John Graham Housing & Services in Vergennes?

I decided to stay and take my current role in part because I knew I would need a strong emotional support network to transition smoothly from college to post-college life. I have a community here, and “adult friends” I hang out with. Serving with John Graham in Vergennes was an exciting and effortless decision because I was familiar with the Director already, and felt confident learning to become a service coordinator at John Graham because of having worked with Charter House.

How has living as a non-student in Addison County been for you?

I have really enjoyed being a non-student in Addison County. I have enjoyed seeing my friends who are still in college, including my partner. Addison County had become my home over the past few years.

Addison County has become my home.

Luna Shen 19.5, AmeriCorps Member

Have you given any thought to what comes next?

While I am not sure of next steps yet, I could see myself reapplying to my current position as AmeriCorps member of John Graham Shelter. Or, I could see myself working in Burlington!

Thank you to Luna and all Middlebury College alumni who have served or are currently serving as AmeriCorps members in Addison County!

Celebrating National AmeriCorps Week: Nicholas Leslie ’19

This week, we are celebrating National AmeriCorps Week by highlighting recent Middlebury graduates currently serving as AmeriCorps members in Addison County!

AmeriCorps is “a network of national service programs, made up of three primary programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement.” Members, including some of our recent Middlebury graduates, commit to serving the community by engaging in youth and mentoring, fighting poverty, increasing academic achievement, and more. 

The state of Vermont produces the 3rd highest rate of AmeriCorps members per capita! We are proud of our alumni who contribute to that ranking and the role that their community engagement experiences as students played in their decisions to serve as AmeriCorps members in Addison County.

Read below to learn more about AmeriCorps member spotlight, Nicholas Leslie ‘19, and his trajectory from student to Addison Central Teens’ AmeriCorps State/National member.

Nicholas Leslie ’19, AmeriCorps State/National Member at Addison Central Teens

Where are you from? What did you study at Middlebury? How were you involved on campus?

I’m from Lexington, Kentucky, and after starting with an interest in Spanish, I switched my studies to history. Throughout most of my time at Middlebury, I was involved in the scene shop in Wright Memorial Theatre and Seeler Studio Theater, mostly producing sets for shows but also doing some prop manufacturing.

How did community engagement shape your time as a student at Middlebury? 

My first foray into the community was a rather small step, with the community choir that met in Mead Chapel twice per week. Although it was still on campus, it was nice that most of the people involved weren’t students because the conversations I had with people never revolved around schoolwork, so it was a decent reprieve from some of the more intense parts of campus culture. I began to get really involved with Addison Central Teens, the teen center in Middlebury, during the latter half of my senior year.

How did these experience deepen your understandings of civic engagement and service?

In the latter half of my senior year, I began volunteering at the teen center twice per week, which was definitely a more immersive experience in the greater Middlebury community. When I was a student, I saw all these other amazing MiddKids fighting for these massive causes that truly needed and still do require people’s participation. That said, I think many of us forgot about the little battles being waged in our own community that cradled us through our student careers. Engaging in the greater Middlebury community definitely reminded me to look not only at the big picture but also at the small details that create it.

I saw all these other amazing MiddKids fighting for these massive causes…I think many of us forgot about the little battles being waged in our own community.

Nicholas Leslie ’19, AmeriCorps Member

What led you to decide to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Addison Central Teens?

I actually left Middlebury for a few months after graduating this past May. I initially thought that moving away from Middlebury would be the best thing for me, but the next few months saw me missing the community and the connections I had made at the teen center. With prompting from some friends and a lot of overthinking, I applied to the position and got it. I was especially happy that I would be able to come and help the teens that I had come to know.

I initially thought that moving away from Middlebury would be the best thing for me, but the next few months saw me missing the community and the connections I had made at the teen center.

Nicholas Leslie ’19, AmeriCorps Member

How has living as a non-student in Addison County been for you?

Being a non-student in Middlebury has been an interesting transition. Life seems to have slowed down from the fast pace that campus was for me, and things are significantly quieter at night, which I have zero complaints about.

Have you given any thought to what comes next?

To be completely honest, I’m already planning on applying for a second term of service at the teen center when my first is up. I want to be a consistent figure in the teens’ lives so that I can best support them through this tough time of change in their lives.

Stay tuned for more upcoming blog posts about our other Middlebury alumni AmeriCorps members!