Gina Amico and David Urieta, are AmeriCorps Alums and currently completing a Masters of Science through the IPSL International Development and Service (MS-IDS) program. Gina is nearing her graduation and studied / served abroad in Siena, Italy and Guayaquil, Ecuador. David is preparing for his first semester abroad in Medellin, Colombia.
In their interview, they share their education and service journey after AmeriCorps, and how it prepared them to study and serve abroad.
Gina: “I actually am in my second service term. I finished my first year, right before I went abroad to Siena. I was at Citizen Schools, an education nonprofit in Manhattan. My main role was capacity building. I worked with external engagement; volunteer retention and I even dabbled in grant writing. It really set the foundation for the work I would be doing overseas with IPSL.”
“Let’s start with what you did with AmeriCorps.”
David: “I did my AmeriCorps VISTA in Jupiter, Florida with an organization called El Sol Jupiter Community Resource Center, improving the quality of life for immigrant day laborers. I was an outreach coordinator and I worked in marketing, communications, social media, website designing, photography, and event planning. Since my parents are undocumented immigrants and former farm workers I felt a personal connection with the clients that we helped. Now I’m in the IPSL MS-IDS program where I’m going to be in Colombia and Peru. I feel like that’s an important addition to what I’ve experienced so far from the U.S. side.”
What were some of your expectations for the program?”
Gina: “Coming into the program I was in the middle of my first AmeriCorps term. I found the IPSL program through the AmeriCorps Alums Online Graduate Fair and it seemed the perfect way to translate the service I was doing with into an academic and career setting. It was right along the lines of what I was doing already – volunteer retention and recruitment, grant writing, community organizing.”
David: “I didn’t learn about the program until two years after my service, when I was completing my Undergraduate degree. It was unexpected too, because I was looking at other schools and other programs, I remember just sort of stumbling on IDS.
While neither of you were able to study abroad while in Undergrad, share why you felt an international experience was so important?
Gina: “I wanted something that would translate what I was doing through AmeriCorps into an education and career path…the service component with IPSL really attracted me to the program, because I was not only serving different communities, I was also able to directly experience the culture of the people I was serving with…I wasn’t just visiting, I felt a part of the community.”
David: “I wasn’t planning on doing a program like this, but something about the other programs was lacking.”
How do you want to change the world?
Gina: “So for me, coming from an AmeriCorps VISTA program right into my service overseas was very beneficial because I was directly able to use those skillsets…and that helped contribute to a lot of the projects. I don’t think without this program that would have happened.”
David: “During my AmeriCorps service I worked specifically with migrant workers and immigrants. When I moved to NYC for the grad program I searched specifically for an immigrant and worker rights organization.”
Both Gina and David are pursuing concurrent degrees that pair an M.B.A. with the IPSL MS-IDS program. Gina’s concurrent M.B.A. has a non-profit focus. Upon returning to the US, Gina started her second AmeriCorps term as a VISTA Leader with Campus Compact; she was drawn back to AmeriCorps after going abroad because of her desire to continue service in the nonprofit sector. IPSL is currently preparing David for his semester in Colombia after which he will learn and serve for a semester in Peru. Gina is working on completing her Culminating Thesis project and getting ready to graduate! You can also watch their interview on YouTube.
With over 50% of the cohort having served in AmeriCorps the IPSL MS-IDS program continues to be a natural next step for alums. IPSL provides an automatic $5,500 scholarship and accepts 100% of the Segal Ed Award as well as waiving the application fee.
Starting in Fall 2017, IPSL – a leader in the field of global service-learning – will offer a new one year accelerated Graduate Degree called COSA: Community Organizing and Social Activism. COSA is designed to give globally minded students a foundation in the history and key practices of community building and civic engagement worldwide, from domestic and international volunteerism, to community organizing, to grassroots social movements and activism – all while ethically serving as international volunteers in communities worldwide. To learn more, visit the IPSL website at www.ipsl.org!