College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Student Leaders Sought to Continue Ole Miss’ Legacy of Service

Dynamic individuals interested in fighting poverty through education are encouraged to apply for a number of full-time, yearlong positions with the North Mississippi Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA, project at the University of Mississippi.

The positions, which begin in November, will be based in Crenshaw, Clarksdale, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus. These full-time, one-year placements are supported by AmeriCorps with a modest living allowance, health benefits and an education grant, which can be used for graduate education or to repay qualified student loans.The North Mississippi VISTA Project works in 23 counties across north Mississippi to build sustainable systems that connect the university and its resources to low-income communities. VISTAs are deployed to nonprofit organizations and schools seeking to develop or expand educational programs that serve low-income children and adults.

“Those who take these positions will make real contributions to the people of Mississippi and gain valuable experience in education,” said Stephen Monroe, the university’s VISTA program director. “VISTAs will work to build sustainable systems for connecting our flagship institution and its resources to north Mississippi communities.”

Volunteers also gain valuable experience and perspective, said Leigh Cummins of Clinton, who graduated from UM in 2011 with bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and international studies before working as a VISTA. The experience inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in education, specializing in international education policy and management, at Vanderbilt University, she said.

“The VISTA year gave me many opportunities to build my skills, explore a multitude of avenues of career interests and a chance to work at what I consider to be one of the greatest universities in the country,” Cummins said. “I am grateful I was able to work with so many outstanding people and to serve so many wonderful students. Again, I’m so glad I chose to do a VISTA year at Ole Miss, because it’s very likely that those 12 months changed the entire trajectory of my career.”

AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to combat poverty. Founded in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 45 years. The university’s first VISTA worked in the College of Liberal Arts in 2010.

Across the country, VISTA members build programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty by fighting illiteracy, improving health services, strengthening community groups and much more.

“The program’s objectives include increasing educational resources for low-income children and adults, addressing clearly identifiable community needs and connecting directly to UM expertise and/or resources,” Monroe said. “We are seeking to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with agencies and schools around our region.”

The positions will work with Crenshaw Elementary School, the Clarksdale School District, the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, and the Girl Scouts Heart of the South council.

Selections must be made by Friday (Sept. 28), so interested parties are encouraged to apply soon.

Visit https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?fromSearch=true&id=41879

for additional information about AmeriCorps VISTA and to apply. Be sure to specifically apply to the North Mississippi VISTA Project. Contact Sharon Levine at splevine@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1905 for more information.