Meet the VISTAs‎ > ‎

2014-15

NAME AND SERVICE SITE

PARTNER & FOCUS AREA

MINI-BIO

Adekemi Ademuyewu

High Point University

Washington St. Project

Healthy Futures

As an AmeriCorps VISTA at High Point University, Kemi's role on campus includes working with Bonner Leader Students as well as planning the Martin Luther King Day of Service for High Point University and the High Point community. Kemi will also be tasked with working in a historical African American area of High Point in increasing nutritious options and food education.  Adekemi Ademuyewo, known by most as Kemi, is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and attended the University of Toledo where she studied Public Health as an undergraduate. Kemi was actively involved at the University of Toledo in Student Government, Mortar Board, Black Student Union, the African Peoples Association, and worked on campus in the catering department. Kemi was also very active in the community as she canvassed for various issues with OAIG and the Ohio Student Association. Kemi has always had an interest in empowering communities to their full potential. That is part of the reason she became interested in AmeriCorps VISTA. After learning about North Carolina Campus compact Kemi became very interested in the work that can be done on college campuses and the areas that surround them. As a recent graduate Kemi will be able to use the skills she gained and work with HPU students and the community. Overall Kemi is very excited to work in High Point, North Carolinas' international city where one can expect nothing less than extraordinary.

 

George Barrett

Marion Cheek Jackson Center


george@jacksoncenter.info

 

 

 

UNC Chapel Hill, Communications Studies

Economic Opportunity

My name is George Barrett and I am a North Carolina Campus Compact VISTA at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center. The Marian Cheek Jackson Center is a non-profit organization in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that works to preserve the history and build community within the historic African American neighborhood of Northside. At the Jackson Center I will be acting as the Coordinator of Community Advocacy. I am from Charlotte, North Carolina and graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and minor in Music. In undergrad I participated in various student organizations and occupations during my time. I was on the Executive Board of UNC Pauper Players, UNC's oldest musical theater organization. I also spent two summers working for the New Student and Carolina Parent Programs Department as an Orientation Leader and then Project Coordinator for New Student Orientation. As well, I was a co-founder of the Society for Undergraduate Anthropologists. Other than binge watching Netflix series, I love to play tennis, dance (like take actual dance classes and not just shake my butt on the late night dance floor), and go to the movies.  In my second semester of my senior year, I volunteered at the Jackson Center through a service learning course that required completing a 30 hour service-learning project. Through this work I fell in love with the history, empowered action, and relationships that I built in Northside. The position at the Jackson Center allows me the ability to form relationships with some of the most amazing individuals who have fought on the front lines of racial and economic oppression. I am most looking forward to bringing all of my experience at UNC and prior to create programs that not only educate people about the rich history of Northside, but allows them to make critical steps to fighting poverty and racial oppression through immersion in this beloved community.

Shannon Barr

High Point University


sbarr@highpoint.edu

Washington St. Project

Education

I am being hosted by the Service Learning Program at High Point University, where I will be serving with the Bonner Leader Program and partnering with the Washington Street Project, focusing on K-8 after school educational program development and volunteer coordination. I graduated from High Point University with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology. As an undergraduate, I served as secretary and vice president of the Exercise Science Club, was an active member of Alpha Delta Theta Christian Service Sorority, joined the Ethics Bowl team and competed at the NCICU Ethics Bowl tournament, and worked as a tutor in the Academic Services Center. While I am originally from Lexington Park, Maryland, it was important to me to remain in North Carolina and serve the community in which I had lived for the past 4 years. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve with NC Campus Compact because it allows me to remain in the academic sphere of higher education in which I thrive and am inspired, while also allowing me to challenge myself and find new inspirations in pursuit of my passions for social justice and service. In my spare time, I can most likely be found at my favorite local coffee shop reading. I also enjoy finding performances by local musicians or poets and spending time outdoors. I look forward to becoming more involved in my community and hopefully inspiring students to become invested in the community as well.

Justin Brantley

Feast Down East


jbbrantley12345@gmail.com

UNC Wilmington

Food Security

My name is Justin Brantley and I am a lifelong resident of the Wilmington Area. I recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington's Public Sociology Program. The sociology program sparked my interest in working with the community to address issues around poverty that include nutrition and education. Through my volunteer experience with the Wilmington Housing Authority I was introduced to the Americorps Vista Program and I thought this would be a productive way to spend my time until I return to school for my Masters. This year I am looking forward to becoming more familiar with the issues in Wilmington as well as restarting  the Community Garden at Hillcrest. In my spare time I like to write music with my friends as well as read.

 

Immanuel Bryant

Elon University


ibryant@elon.edu

 

 

Alamance County community agencies

Education, Healthy Futures/Food Security

After leaving his hometown of Goldsboro, NC, Immanuel was determined to be an independent study major at Elon University. By combining disicplines he sought to study the effects of institutions upon individuals in a given society from different perspectives. He dubbed the major “Education Reform” since curricularly it sought to use institutions of education as a case study. Due to unforeseen circumstances, he changed his major to English in order to study the foundational discipline of rhetoric instead, but he never lost his interest in learning about how he could help to make better institutions in order to create better individuals within a given society. In the spring of 2014, Immanuel Bryant graduated from Elon University with a degree in English with a concentration in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and a minor in Leadership Studies.During his time at Elon, he led campus-wide initiatives for the Truitt Center, Center for Leadership, and the Multicultural Center while also participating in the Isabella Canon Leadership and Watson and Odessey Scholars programs. In his free time he enjoyed traveling, attending lectures and having engaging discussions with friends throughout his undergraduate career. Despite having other job offers, the chance to fight poverty by developing a county-wide early childhood initiative led him to become an NC Campus Compact VISTA. As a VISTA he is currently working to establish health and wellness support services for low-income children and families in Alamance County through a new early childhood initiative to be led by Elon’s Center for Access and Success. In a VISTA project that he shares with Jessica Eller, he will research, design, and implement a new county-wide, health and wellness programs for low-income children ages 0-4. Overall, Immanuel is looking forward to be able to use his education in order to attempt to eradicate one of the factors correlates with generational poverty during his VISTA year.

Jessica Cagle

Student U


jessica.cagle@studentudurham.org

North Carolina Central University

Education

My name is Jessica, and I grew up in Charlotte, NC. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Psychology and Communication Studies. I wanted to be a NC Campus Compact VISTA because I wanted to commit a year of my life to service. I have been given so much my whole life, so I wanted to give back to my community and truly learn what it feels like to not be as fortunate. Because I went to college at UNC-CH, I already knew a lot of people who lived in Durham, where my current host site, Student U, is located. Several of my friends from college worked at Student U. They have nothing but wonderful things to say aboutthe organization. I was really excited when I found out that I would be working at Student U for a year. I get to serve really awesome, intelligent kids who come from low-income families. My main responsibility at Student U is to recruit college students from around the area to serve as teachers during the Summer Enrichment Program and as tutors during the Year Round After-School Program. I get to work very closely with the Middle School Program Director and the Middle School Program Coordinator to help them with whatever they need. I will also be overseeing all of the volunteer tutors this year. When I'm not working, I like to run, read, spend time with family and friends, and watch movies. I really enjoy being outdoors and being active. What I am most looking forward to this year is forming lasting relationships with my coworkers and being able to serve my community.

Catherine Casteel

NC Campus Compact, Elon University

ccasteel@elon.edu

VISTA Leader-Performance Measurement Specialist

As one of the two VISTA Leaders, I will be working on Performance Measurement for all the VISTAs and will be working a little more closely with VISTA focused on Education Initiatives. I am originally from New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. I eat copious amounts of Hatch green chile and was excited to see it on the shelves of Harris Teeter! I graduated from Trinity University in 2010 with a B.A. in Communication. At Trinity, I was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, and my experience there guided me toward a career in public service.  In 2012, I spent some time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Ghana and then several months working with an NGO in Cambodia. I came back to the States eager to gain more professional experience with non-profits and Americorps was a perfect fit. I’ve spent the last year working in Cincinnati as a VISTA with Sharecorps, a state wide organization devoted to anti-hunger initiatives. My host site in Cincinnati was a small church called Washington UCC. It was a great opportunity for personal and professional growth and I’m excited to grow and learn with all the VISTA members.

Perdita Das

NC Campus Compact, Elon University

pdas@elon.edu

VISTA Leader-Professional Development  Specialist

At NC Campus Compact, I will be working on Professional Development for all the VISTAs as well communications and will be focusing a little more on VISTA members working on Economic Opportunity and Food Security initiatives. I am originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh and moved to the States in 2008. I got my B.S and M.B.A in International Business at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut and then went on to serve as a VISTA with RYASAP and the City of Bridgeport Office of the Mayor to conduct a needs and assets assessment, work with neighborhood groups to do community development and propose a multi-site VISTA project for the city. My project was under CT Campus Compact so I am really happy to be able to stay within the Campus Compact family. This is my first big move since 2008 and I am really excited not only for the new work opportunity but also the ability to live in a new state. I want to utilize the skills I obtained from my college degrees and my experience after graduation to work in non-profits and bring it back to Bangladesh to promote women entrepreneurship in rural areas.   

Jessica Eller

Elon University

jeller@elon.edu

Alamance County community agencies

Education

My name is Jessica Eller and I am from Burlington, NC. My host site is Elon University; also where I graduated from this past May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. While at Elon I joined Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, holding a position as VP of Communications my junior year. As an AmeriCorps VISTA for NC Campus Compact, my role and goal is to establish a cradle to college pipeline of support for low-income families and children in Alamance County. After researching and assessing the need in Alamance County we will be able to design and implement a program that focuses on school readiness and health/wellness for children ages 0-4. One of the biggest things that appealed to be about being a VISTA here in Alamance County is because it's the county in which I grew up. I am a first-generation college student so it means a lot to me to be able to be a part of researching and creating a program that benefits families and children in my community that are in similar situations that I was once in growing up.

Meghan Engstran

Meredith College

Communities in Schools and Telamon Head Start

Education

My role at Meredith College is to coordinate the poverty initiative, Children's Collaborative of Wake County and Campus Kitchen, of the Chaplain's office. My hometown, Andover, is in the great state of Minnesota! I graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Deaf Studies. I was drawn to AmeriCorp VISTA because of my internship in the Office of Civic Engagement on the UMD campus. Through my experience I learned that I have a passion for serving my community, however after graduating I was looking for a new community to serve. And that is the story of how I made the move from Minnesota to North Carolina. For fun, I love to be outdoors, hiking, winter camping and any water activities. For this coming year I am most looking forward to professional development and learning more about a brand new community.

Naijla Faizi

Wake Forest University


faiznr0@wfu.edu

Various Winston-Salem agencies
Education

I am from High Point, NC born and raised in Charlotte, NC. I graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.A. in Religion with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement and minors in International Studies and Middle East/South Asia Studies. While at Wake, I was involved with the Interfaith Council and the Muslim Students Association. I also participated in various service activities and events on campus and lead an Interfaith themed Wake Alternative Break trip to Washington D.C. Currently I am working in the new Pro Humanitate Institute with the Office of Campus Life focusing on Education and Literacy in Winston-Salem. My role is to expand N.E.R.D., the Network of Educational Resources and Development. My primary tasks are to help build efficiency of after-school programs and encourage more Demon Deacons to become tutors and mentors in the community. I was interested in becoming a VISTA because of the focus on service and the opportunity to serve my country in a peaceful way. I am most looking forward to expanding my knowledge about our education system and ways that it needs to be improved and what I can do to help promote change. Eventually I would like to pursue a career promoting education for young women in the Middle East and South Asia.

 

 

 

 

Christian Gray

North Carolina State University


clgray2@ncsu.edu

Chavis Heights Community Center

Education

I am a native of Fayetteville, NC. I completed my first two years of college at East Carolina University from where I soon transferred to William Peace University to play basketball.  At my host site, I am responsible for coordinating all college success events. It is up to me to plan college visits, bring individuals into the RCC (Raleigh College Center) to speak about FASFA, Scholarships, and many more critical pieces of information about college.  I graduated in May 2014 from William Peace University with a BA degree in Psychology. While at William Peace, I was the Men’s Basketball team captain and I was the first male Resident Assistant in school history.  Also, a very prestigious award I received was the “Mr. Peace” award which, again, I was the first male in school history ever to receive such an award.  The biggest factor that appealed to me about becoming an NC Campus Compact VISTA was the fact that I would be able to help communities in a professional setting.  For fun I enjoy exercising and traveling. The most important aspect I want individuals to take from this paragraph is not my name or what I have accomplished, but that I want people to be able to inspire others! “Build a platform for yourself where you can inspire and change lives, and understand you build a platform by staying relevant.”

Kali Hackett

University of North Carolina at Greensboro


k_hacket@uncg.edu

Interactive Resource Center

Economic Opportunity

Kali Hackett will be serving as an NC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In her role as a VISTA, Kali will be working with both the Office for Leadership and Service-Learning at UNCG and the Interactive Resource Center in downtown Greensboro. After graduating from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May, with degrees in Journalism & Mass Communication and Women's Studies, Kali was drawn to NC Campus Compact AC/VISTA because she was inspired by the mission to strengthen communities and end poverty by collaborating with universities and civically engaged students. Working in the non-profit sector and volunteering during college also played a major role in Kali's decision to become a VISTA. When looking forward at the year ahead, Kali turns to one of her favorite quotes: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” -- Mahatma Gandhi.

 Brittany Johnson

    Hospitality House of Boone

brittany@hosphouse.org

Appalachian State University (ACT Office)

Economic Opportunity

I am serving as the Project Manager for the Welcome Home Thriftique project. This project is a thrift store that sells upscale items donated by the community. 100% of profits go directly to support Hospitality House programs and services. The thriftique will serve as a job skills training and financial literacy program and the store will serve as the hands-on learning classroom. I am originally from Dunn, NC and I graduated from Appalachian State University. At ASU, I was the president of PRSSA and vice president of PR for APPS, the on campus-entertainment organization. My degree is in Public Relations with a minor in Sociology. I love living in Boone, my sweet dog Maggie, and The Avett brothers. I love my job and I am so excited to see what is in store this year for this amazing project. Check out Brittany's profile on the NC Campus Compact VISTA View Blog, and definitely read Brittany's blog post reflecting on her first year of VISTA service.

 Willie Jones

    Western Carolina University


wajones@wcu.edu

Community Table

Food Security

My name is Willie Jones and I'm the AmeriCorps VISTA at Western Carolina University. I am from the city of Cincinnati aka "Cin-City" or "Da Nati".  I graduated from Brevard College, located in the lovely mountains of Western Carolina, where I obtained a degree in Environmental Science with a strong focus in Environmental Geology. At Brevard I ran Cross-Country for a year and Track for 2 years, was an Residential Adviser for 2 years, served on a variety of Presidential and Dean Boards, and served as the Service Coordinator for the Multicultural Center. I was heavily involved. The VISTA program appealed to  me because I knew several VISTA members prior to graduating and really admired what they did. I also wanted to be in a position that would allow me to feel like I was making a difference, develop and enhance my skills as a leader,  and allow me to be close to my finance. There are a lot of things I enjoy to do for fun, such as: eating, play with animals, travel, hiking, biking, climbing, gardening, Netflix, eating, working out, and spending time with my fiance, during which we eat some more. :) This year I am looking forward putting some of my newly acquired skills to use, so that my project will be sustainable and finally obtaining a big-boy job or graduate school. Check out Willie's profile on the NC Campus Compact VISTA View Blog!

 Jess-Mara Jordan

    UNC Asheville


jjordan2@unca.edu

Open Doors of Asheville

Education

My name is Jess-Mara Jordan and I am the AmeriCorps VISTA at UNC-Asheville in the Key Center for Community Citizenship and Service-Learning in partnership with OpenDoors of Asheville. I graduated from Elon University in May 2013 with my B.A. in Psychology. During my time at Elon, I was on the executive board of Gospel Choir all four years and started a Christian step team my sophomore year. I also was involved with the Kernodle Center for Service-Learning which led to my interest in AmeriCorps. This is my second year at my host site and I am excited to have a new structure for the mentor program I started this past Spring with local elementary and middle school students. I would describe myself as an avid thrifter and inexpensive make-up connoisseur who loves to eat simple, good food and teach step to kids in my spare time. Check out Jess-Mara's blog post on our VISTA VIEW blog. 

Matthew Kauffmann

Community Empowerment Fund


mattk@communityef.org

UNC Chapel Hill, Center on Work, Poverty, Opportunity

Economic Opportunity

 I am the Advocate Program Coordinator at the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA sponsored by NC Campus Compact in partnership with the Center for Poverty, Work & Opportunity at the UNC School of Law. I am from Raleigh and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill. While an undergrad, I volunteered for CEF as an advocate and team leader. After graduating in 2012, I served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Los Angeles and was then hired by my placement agency. I love CEF, UNC, and North Carolina so much that I jumped at the opportunity to serve as a VISTA with NC Campus Compact. For fun I read books and run marathons.

 

 

Anna Mahathey

    High Point University


amahathe@highpoint.edu

 West End Ministries

Food Security

I am originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I attended High Point University and earned degrees in Religion and Sociology. I minored in Spanish. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors in Religion, and had my Religion thesis published in the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa. During my college career, I was a Spanish and Religion tutor in Academic Services Center, I was a Writing Fellow in the Writing Center, I worked in the Office of Study Abroad, and I maintained the Religion and Philosophy Facebook page. Aside from my jobs, I was involved in several honors societies, including one for each of my majors, as well as Spanish Club and Sociology/Anthropology Club. I also volunteered with a program called Union Kids, which was a homework help program out of Union Ridge UMC in Winston-Salem. We served the children dinner, had a devotional, and assisted them with homework. I also served as a translator and interpreter for the parents, as many of them only spoke Spanish. At High Point University, my host site, I serve as Civic Leadership Coordinator. In that position, I act at the Coordinator of the Bonner Program and work primarily with the Senior Bonners. Additionally, I help coordinate MLK Day of Service. I served as a VISTA last year and decided to stay on for another year because I am deeply passionate about the work and the mission of this program. Forming community both on campus and in the community was incredible. Outside of work, I love to bike, hike, rock climb, or be involved in anything else outdoors. I also love to read, do yoga, exercise, and meditate. This year I am most looking forward to really expanding the partnerships I created last year to develop new programs at my partner site. I am also tremendously excited to see how the Bonner Leader Program grows this year.

Elizabeth McIntosh

Partnership for Appalachian Girls Education (PAGE)


eliz.mcintosh@gmail.com

Madison County Schools

Edcation

While working with the Partnership for Appalachian Girls' Education, I spend my time between the Madison County Public School System and Duke University, Social Science Research Institute.  At my host site, I am responsible for marketing and communications, expanding and building community engagement in PAGE, recruiting middle school and high school girls to be a part of PAGE, recruiting volunteers and other interested community members, helping steer PAGE on the path to become its own 501c3, and fundraising and donor relations.  I am from Winter Park, Florida originally, but graduated from Duke University in 2013 with a B.A. in Public Policy.  I like all outdoor activities, exercising, rock climbing, or just being with friends. I also love water sports and, being from Florida, love a great day at the beach. I am most looking forward to continuing  the work I did last year with PAGE, as I hope to leave the program with a deeper foundation in the community, school system, and Duke University. I really enjoyed my first year as an NC Campus Compact VISTA and cannot wait to see what great things we will all accomplish this year! Check out Elizabeth's profile on the NC Campus Compact VISTA View Blog!

Catherine Okafor

Duke University


catherine.okafor@duke.edu

America Reads and America Counts

Education

Catherine works on the Partners in Print initiative out of the America Reads/ America Counts program, and her focus in the Community Service Center (CSC) is on parent engagement in child literacy in the Durham community. Catherine began working in the CSC in August 2014. She served her first year as an AmeriCorps member with College Forward, a Houston-based college readiness non-profit. Catherine earned her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Barton College and was actively involved in student leadership while at Barton and the Wilson community. This ultimately led her to become the recipient of the 2011 NC Campus Compact Community Impact Student Award. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, yoga and cheering on her favorite NBA basketball team, Miami Heat.

 Hanna Paek

East Carolina University


paekh14@ecu.edu

West Greenville community agencies

Education

 Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, I decided to move across the country in 2011 for college.  I was abroad in Sweden when I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2014.  I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Social and Economic Justice.  The classes I took for my minor opened my eyes to the injustices that the majority of Americans face today.  I hope that my work with ECU and its community partners in the West Greenville neighborhood will continue to kindle my passion for social service as I learn more about service and fighting inequality.  I look forward to learning more about Greenville and engaging with the community on a deeper and broader scale.  In my free time, I enjoy reading, going on adventurous excursions, volunteering with the community, watching movies, and discovering new restaurants to Yelp about.

Natasha Vos

Wake Forest University


vosna@wfu.edu

Various Winston-Salem agencies
Food Security/Healthy Futures

My name is Natasha Vos and I am working with the Campus Kitchen program at Wake Forest University as a food access VISTA with NC Campus Compact. Originally from Chapel Hill, I graduated from NC State University in 2012 with a duel degree in Animal Science and Poultry Science. As an undergraduate I became interested in sustainable agriculture and how it plays into food systems and overall community health through an internship with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. This internship, combined with experiences in service-learning, such as alternative service breaks, has led me to serving as an AmeriCorps member. Prior to this year I worked with the Carolina Center for Public Service as a staff advisor to several student-led service-learning programs. I became interested in NC Campus Compact because of the partnership between community partners and universities that the VISTAs get to be involved with, similar to my previous work experience at UNC. I am looking forward to working with college students this year and exploring the Winston-Salem food insecurity issues as well as what resources are already available. After being a VISTA I hope to go back to graduate school for public health, specifically community health and nutrition. In my spare time I enjoy running, reading and cooking. Traveling is also a passion of mine and I hope to take time off within the next few years to travel around different parts of the world such as South East Asia.                                                                                    

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