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Finding Careers Through Service: Blog 5 of the #Iamthe20th Series

August 7, 2014

Today’s guest blogs come from  alums who shared stories on and now serve with the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service. This is our fifth blog in the #Iamthe20th series! While our awards nominations deadline has passed, we are still collecting AmeriCorps Alums stories to celebrate throughout the year. Do you want your AmeriCorps program or Alums chapter to be featured next? It’s easy! Take a picture with our #Iamthe20th sign, post it on social media with the hashtag #Iamthe20th, and email your blog to!


Jamie Orozco Nagel

Jamie 20thWhy did you share a story on

I shared my story because AmeriCorps provided me with an opportunity to act on my passions and to make my country a better place.

Where did you serve, and where are you now?

THEN: Notre Dame Mission Volunteer AmeriCorps Program / St. Columbkille school (2005-2006), and Iowa Legal Aid AmeriCorps Program / North Central Regional Office, Mason City, IA (2006-2007).

Now: Program Officer, Economic Opportunity with Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps.

Through service I learned more about working with the Spanish-speaking immigrant community, and I decided to become a professional social worker.  I have pursued career, volunteer, and advocacy opportunities in which I can work with others for social justice.

Michelle Raymer

Michelle 20thWhy did you share a story on

Personally I continue to volunteer in my community, and professionally I’ve made a career of promoting volunteerism and service as a way to meet community needs through positions I’ve held in the nonprofit and public sectors.

Where did you serve and where are you now?

THEN: Lutheran Services in Iowa Refugee Cooperative Services (2007-2008).

NOW: Program Officer, Volunteer Generation Fund & Disaster with Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps.

I’ve always been passionate about social justice, and my service year reaffirmed that passion and gave me the opportunity to make a tangible positive impact for a nonprofit organization and for the inspiring families and individuals they served.

Chad Driscoll

Chad 20thWhy did you share a story on

I shared my story because I see myself as both professionally and personally advocating for the value of AmeriCorps and National Service daily, and it drives me to continually “Get Things Done”!

Where did you serve and where are you now?

Then: Big Brothers Big Sisters AmeriCorps Program/Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley (2006-2008).

Now: Program Officer, Education & Youth Development with the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps has provided me the opportunity to connect and make a difference in my community.  It led me onto a path of National Service as my career.  Volunteerism and National Service is a passion that drives me personally and professionally daily.

Lisa Smith

Lisa 20thWhy did you share a story on

I shared because my experience with AmeriCorps has given me an understanding of how poverty affects the state of Iowa.

Where are you serving and where do you hope to go next?

Then & NOW: Central Iowa Shelter & Services’ Veteran Outreach Project (2012-2013), and Volunteer Iowa VISTA project – VISTA Leader (2013-2014).

Next: I would like to find a career that allows me to empower others with the spirit of volunteerism and work to find practical solutions for some of the biggest challenges our society faces.

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps.

After 2 years as a VISTA, I feel empowered by the programs I’ve worked in to help those who have been forgotten or overlooked by society.

Rachel Vastine

Rachel V 20thWhy did you share a story on

I shared because being an AmeriCorps VISTA has given me the chance to pursue my passions and experience new things in the process.

Where are you serving, and what do you hope to do next?

NOW: Iowa Mentoring Partnership AmeriCorps VISTA with the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.

NEXT: When my term of service is over, I intend to continue finding volunteer opportunities in my community

Describe how you were #MadeInAmeriCorps in six words.

I plan on having a career in social work in some capacity in order to serve communities.


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