HPU Supports Nine AmeriCorp VISTAs in Serving the City

High Point University is supporting nine AmeriCorp VISTAs this academic year. Pictured from left to right are Wilson Haworth, Natalie Ward, Kayla Quick, Aliyah Suggs, Clarice Sigsworth, Jenny Carpenter, Casey Tyndall, Avery Moon and Douglas McCollum.  


HIGH POINT, N.C., Aug. 13, 2020 – Nine recent college graduates are dedicating a year of service to the High Point community as AmeriCorps VISTAs. For the eighth year, High Point University is hosting VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America), who will provide thousands of hours of service to local organizations.

Each VISTA will be placed with a nonprofit in the city to build sustainable programs in an area of focus. HPU invests more than $200,000 annually to provide housing, meals, office space and access to student volunteers to carry out projects with their partner agencies. They are mentored by the Rev. Mary Beth Foust, HPU’s assistant director of civic responsibility and social innovation.

“Our HPU AmeriCorps VISTA members have a unique opportunity to serve this year amidst a global pandemic,” says Mary Beth Foust, assistant director of civic responsibility and social innovation at HPU. “I am confident that their individual strengths and collective skill sets will make an impact on the High Point community that will be long lasting. I know that our community partners could not do their good work without our VISTAs. It is always a great joy for me to work alongside of our members and watch them grow and flourish.”

HPU has grown its VISTA program to become one of the largest, single-site projects in the country, which also represents a federal investment of more than $150,000 in High Point.

This year’s VISTAs are as follows:

Clarice Sigsworth is the VISTA leader for the 2020-2021 HPU AmeriCorps VISTA cohort.  Last year, Sigsworth served as an education VISTA on Washington Street and collaborated with the Hayden-Harman Foundation and D-UP, Inc. to bring jazz education to children in High Point. This year, she will use what she learned through that process to help guide eight new VISTAs through their service year. Sigsworth graduated from High Point University in 2019 with a degree in strategic communication and trombone performance and is active in the Triad professional music scene.

“Working in the community last year was a transformative experience,” says Sigsworth. “I learned so much about the power of collaboration and finding mentorship in the community, and I cannot wait to apply that knowledge this year. I am so excited for this group of incredibly bright, driven people to start on their own journeys as HPU VISTAs.”

 

Casey Tyndall, a North Carolina native, graduated from HPU in 2019 with a degree in event management. This is her first year working with the Greater High Point Food Alliance focusing on food education. She is excited to be back at High Point to work with community members while expanding upon her professional skills.

“After graduation, I knew that I wanted to use the skills I developed at HPU in my career and be able to help others,” says Tyndall. “Having this opportunity to work as a VISTA is so rewarding because I’m getting to work with a community I called home throughout my collegiate career.”

Douglas McCollum is a native of High Point who graduated from HPU with a bachelor’s degree in strategic communication. McCollum loves to tell stories. His affinity for storytelling led him to spoken word poetry and helped him earn a First Generation – Say Yes Scholarship to attend High Point University in 2016. McCollum has learned that speaking and sharing parts of himself empowers others to do the same. He will be serving his hometown community at D-Up and the Community Writing Center on Washington Street.

“I’ve been blessed enough to not only grow up, but go to school and work in the High Point community,” says McCollum. “Extending my roots into the VISTA program to continue to learn about and work alongside my home is something I am truly looking forward to.”

Avery Moon, originally from Connecticut, graduated from HPU in May with a degree in international relations and sociology and anthropology. As an HPU student, Moon was an active member of HPU’s Student Government Association, Model United Nations, the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, and participated in several semesters of service-learning classes. Now, as an AmeriCorps VISTA, she will be serving as a School and Community Partnership Coordinator within the city of High Point.

“Spending my three years of college living and volunteering in High Point has shown me how even the smallest initiatives can be a catalyst for the largest impacts,” says Moon. “I’m excited to continue making a difference in the Triad’s education sector through my work as a VISTA.”

 

Natalie Marie Ward attended High Point University before receiving two master’s degrees from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. Ward is gearing up to begin her first year of service as the HPU AmeriCorps VISTA. Her assignment is to help research and pilot programs with the Hayden-Harman Foundation and the Greater High Point Food Alliance to improve food security in the city of High Point. Ward’s passion for food security began during her time at High Point University where her mentor, former HPU anthropology professor Dr. Chelsea Wentworth, invited Ward to assist with her on-going research in childhood malnutrition on the pacific island nation, Vanuatu. 

“Shortly after I graduated from the University of Manchester, COVID-19 was declared an international pandemic,” says Ward. “I was determining my next steps and could not help but think of the people and institutions in High Point that inspired me so many years ago. I cannot wait to learn more from this community. During this crisis, we have all been called to help one another and to rethink our systems of care. So many people before me have been doing this work, and I am honored to be handed the baton.”

Kayla Quick, a High Point native, attended High Point University as a First Generation Scholar and graduated in May with a degree in nonprofit leadership and management with minors in civic responsibility and social innovation and African American studies. Quick will be spending her year working with Northwood Elementary School, focusing on education equity. Her responsibilities include community engagement through increasing access to wrap-around services established in the community. She will be working closely with the PTA and Communities in Schools to encourage support, maintain connections and promote service within Northwood.

“I look forward to not just giving back to my city, but continuing to learn from the people in my city about what they need,” says Quick. “I want to give a voice to the voiceless. My main focus as an HPU VISTA is to support the voiceless as they find their voice through agency and provide them with ample opportunities to utilize it.”

Jenny Carpenter, a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, native, graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in cellular and molecular biology. She is working at the Hayden-Harman Foundation and Greater High Point Food Alliance. Her responsibilities include developing and supporting farmer’s markets and community gardens in the city of High Point while promoting service opportunities.

“I am so excited for the opportunity to serve as a VISTA for the High Point community that I had called home for my first two years of undergraduate studies,” says Carpenter. “I am looking forward to advocating for access to healthy food and its role in disease prevention and treatment.”

Aliyah Suggs, originally from Kinston, North Carolina, graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a degree in social work. During her senior year, she interned with Communities in Schools and was placed at Fairview Elementary School. After working with the community, she decided to become an HPU AmeriCorps VISTA for the next year at Fairview. Her responsibilities and tasks include engaging parents within the community, encouraging students to stay in school and achieve higher education, and advocating for them and their rights.

“As an HPU VISTA, I am so excited to see what this amazing opportunity has in store for me,” says Suggs. “I am looking forward to helping the community and empowering the students that I will be working with. This year will also help me grow as an individual and strengthen my professional skills.”

Wilson Haworth will be working with the Greater High Point Food Alliance in the city of High Point. In the spring, Haworth graduated from Guilford College with a political science degree with a focus on food insecurity. Wilson has lived in High Point since childhood and has a deep love of the community. In addition to working with the food alliance, Wilson also serves on the community board of LEAP, a Greensboro-based food research group.

“Food security is about building the world we want to see,” says Haworth. “If we want to create a better tomorrow, that begins by making sure that everyone has access to the food they need. I care deeply about my community, and I can’t wait for the chance to help build a community where everyone has simple, equitable access to the food they need to thrive.”

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