A group of Millersville students who all graduated from McCaskey High School are giving back to their alma mater and the School District of Lancaster through an AmeriCorps project aimed at college and career preparation called the McCaskey Tornado Career Corps. The program is named for McCaskey’s mascot, the Tornado.
This program is the latest PACC VISTA (Pennsylvania Campus Compact Volunteers In Service to America) project at Millersville. For the last three years, MU students have worked on an AmeriCorps project providing after-school tutoring and mentoring to students in kindergarten through sixth grade. That program has been sustained by the MU After School Corps.
For this next project cycle, which will also last for three years, the team in Experiential Learning and Career Management (ELCM) thought it was time to focus on local high school students.
“When conceptualizing the new project, we met with school district officials in the Office of Teaching and Learning and were excited to hear about the district’s plans for college and career readiness programming, including the hiring of a full-time Coordinator of College and Career Services,” says ELCM Director Melissa Wardwell. “We believed that McCaskey-graduated Millersville students would be ideal role-model volunteers to work closely with the new Coordinator to help 9th to 12th graders with college and career planning information and activities.”
The program works with McCaskey, Phoenix Academy and the Lancaster Cyber Program. It kicked off in November and is overseen by Kurt Lituma, a Millersville graduate who is serving as a ‘16-‘17 Pennsylvania Campus Compact (PACC) VISTA, hosted by the ELCM office.
The PACC VISTA program seeks to develop and support community service and civic engagement programs at higher education institutions by placing AmeriCorps*VISTA members at colleges and universities across Pennsylvania. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, AmeriCorps*VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 50 years.
“The goal of the project is to help build the capacity of the School District of Lancaster by training and supplying Millersville volunteers to support the district’s existing college and career readiness services,” says Lituma. “Our project also helps the district support 10th grade students by providing programming similar to that received by 9th, 11th and 12th graders through GEAR UP grant funding.”
A group of nine Millersville students are currently participating in the program as Career Corps Educators. They travel to the different schools giving workshops, presentations and panels on various subjects related to college and career readiness.
“We let them know that we were in their shoes,” says speech communications major Martwann Alston, ’19.
“I think it’s important to give back to the community because not only does it benefit them, but it benefits me as well, knowing that I’ve made a positive impact on their lives,” says biology major Kimmai Tran ’20.
Lituma will be looking for more interested McCaskey-graduated Millersville students in the future.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the enthusiasm of the Millersville students in the Tornado Career Corps,” says Wardwell. “They are wonderful ambassadors for Millersville and, even though it is early in the project, they are well on their way toward helping the school district build its capacity to achieve college and career readiness goals for its students.”
To become part of the McCaskey Tornado Career Corps or PACC VISTA contact ELCM.Vista@millersville.edu. Learn more about Experiential Learning and Career Management (ELCM) at millersville.edu/elcm.