I became a Johnson Intern in its 2nd year – way way back in 2001-2002 – with a cohort of just four others all looking for a different kind of year for discernment. I had just graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill where I had studied Anthropology and Religious Studies and was really attracted to the social justice aspect of the program. At that time we were also considered an AmeriCorps program so our hours within our placements counted towards AmeriCorps service hours, a dream for someone like me really looking to become immersed within my community.
I was placed with EmPOWERment, Inc, a local community organizing, affordable housing, and grassroots economic development organization. It was really a fantastic opportunity and one I never would have had otherwise. While I was there I helped organize their first Homebuyer’s Education Classes in Spanish and learned so much about the affordable housing issues that face (and continue to face!) our community. The next year I worked at the Inter-Faith Council’s Homeless Shelter and knew then that I would return to UNC to get a Master of Social Work degree. In my practicum, I continued to work with the Spanish-speaking community through various economic development initiatives through Self-Help Credit Union. The founders of EmPOWERment, Inc had also been UNC School of Social Work students and everything seemed to be aligning as it should.
However, with a fresh MSW degree in hand and still not a lot of work experience, I struggled with the local non-profit job search. Through some connections, I made a transition to the field of international health. I have now been with IntraHealth International, Inc. for the past 14 years providing management and operations support. At the time it felt like quite a shift to move from a local community focus to a global focus, however what I quickly learned is every community everywhere depends on the same systems of support to sustain them.
In my time since being a Johnson Intern I have served on the board and been a mentor to three very awesome women. One decided to pursue a career in international development and another also received her MSW. I wish I could take some partial credit for their career decisions but honestly, the Johnson Service Corps not only attracts those that want to serve but helps mold young adults into becoming servant leaders of humanity. I feel so fortunate to continue to be a part of this community now 18 years after my own tenure with the program and look forward to hearing about the continued impact of the Johnson Service Corps on its members and community.