The AmeriCorps Vista program is making its way to Millersville University again this year. Since its inception in 1994, MU has supported AmeriCorps and its initiatives. This year’s program will be aimed at aiding the University’s Integrated Studies program and supporting students to attain pre-graduation and post graduation employment. The project began on July 23 and will run through July of 2021.
The AmeriCorps Vista program is a national service program that has been at the forefront of building the capacity for communities to fight poverty. The goal is to build solutions that last even after the project has concluded. Brought together through partnership between the Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS) and the Pennsylvania Campus Compact (PACC), the program has aided various groups for over the last 50 years. The focus is to find sustainable solutions to help build long-term support in a community.
Here at Millersville, the AmeriCorps Vista program will be titled Employment Services Program (ESP). The project will be a college-based capacity building and data collection initiative linked with Integrated Studies and aimed at employing students with disabilities both during and post-college. PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium (PIHEC) will work to replicate the ESP model at other universities that are working toward the same goal.
Millersville will partner with two other organizations on the project: The PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and AHEDD, an employment services company specifically for persons with disabilities. Partnering together will give MU all the tools necessary to enact a plan with a long term solution.
Helping to lead the project at MU is Katie Sternbergh. She has been working in this field since the fall of 2014 and recently graduated from Kutztown University with a masters in both social work and public administration. Serving as Experiential Learning & Organizational Capacity Coordinator on the project, Sternbergh will be hard at work here at MU.
Sternbergh says her focus will mainly be around building capacity within Millersville’s Experiential Learning and Career Management (ELCM) to expand career development for MU students with disabilities.
“My task will be predominantly focused on researching and developing service coordination in the areas of career development and employment services aimed to serve students in Integrated Studies,” says Sternbergh. “One of the big tasks this year is to centralize and create processes, procedures, resources and other services to create sustainable and consistent employment for students.”
Sternbergh also voiced her excitement to be working on the project.
“Millersville provides a lot of great services to students so I am excited to find creative ways to highlight all of the campus and community resources provided to Millersville students as we embark upon creating an employment services component of the ELCM for students with disability.”
All members of the project will be working towards reaching the same goal while here at MU including Dr. Thomas Neuville, a professor and Disability Studies advisor who will play a major role as VISTA Advisor on the project.
“Millersville University is living out the conviction that we are together strong. What makes us strong is welcoming students with intellectual disability and shaping the university to universally educate all to earn the good things of life,” says Neuville. “Katie and VISTA / AmeriCorps are dedicated to creating employment as a critical result of an MU education. What Katie facilitates and designs now will be left long after she has completed her task. Our aim is for the Employment Services Program (ESP) becomes a known and everyday part of what Experiential Learning and Career Management does for all MU students.”
Student volunteers are welcomed and even encouraged. If interested in learning how you can help with the project, email Katie Sternbergh at firstname.lastname@example.org.