Students explore service


Erin Almeter, Staff writer

Mercyhurst’s Community Engagement Office helped organize the annual Post-Graduate Service Fair for students on Nov. 6. The event took place in Ryan Hall’s Waterford Room and featured various programs like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Holy Family Service Corp, LaLanne, PULSE, Bon Secours Volunteer Ministries, ECHO, City Year and Mercy Volunteer Corps.

Bethany Woods, Assistant Director of Community Engagement, was one of the coordinators that helped make the event possible.

“The Post-Grad Service Fair is a way for students to learn about options other than going right into a job or graduate school,” Woods said. “These broader options can help lead into future careers.”

Woods stressed that these service opportunities really give students job experience that they would not receive anywhere else. Some general benefits that students can receive from completing a year of service include at least $6,000 post-service award, monthly stipends, health and insurance benefits and living arrangement assistance.

Some programs even offer students a free Master’s degree with completion of the year as well as other additional benefits depending on the program one might choose. The biggest advantage to completing a year of service seems to be the unique experience that participating students receive as a result.

Woods herself is a three-year AmeriCorp Vista Lake Effect Leader (LEL). Because of the work she did through AmeriCorp and with Colin Hurley, Mercyhurst’s Director of Community Engagement, she was able to help co-write her current job description.

Woods described some of the more popular service organizations such as Peace Corps, Mercy Volunteer Corp and AmeriCorp, which has many different divisions like Pulse and City Year.

When some of the different program representatives were asked what they would want cur-rent students to know about doing a year of service there were some varying answers. The AmeriCorp LEL recruiter stressed the empowering aspect of completing a year of service.

“It is an excellent way to em-power the Erie and Meadville communities,” she said. “Students can gain a different perspective from community members while also furthering their own personal and life goals.”

ECHO’s program recruiter, Mercyhurst’s own Campus Minister, Michelle Scully, described a year of service as “helpful for students, especially the ones where they are living in a community.”

“A year of service can lead to personal growth that is not necessarily tied to the specific work that is being carried out,” Scully said.

“When personal growth happens intentionally through the program, it makes it even more impactful.”

The Mercy Volunteer Corp representative stated that the experience for future careers is one of the most important aspects of doing a year of service. “It gives students an opportunity to give back while they have the time, energy and freedom as recent graduates,” she said.

After the event that began at 3 p.m. and went until 5 p.m., there was a dinner held for the representatives of the programs and any students that were still looking for more information.

There are many opportunities that can occur from completing a year of service and many different programs out there so students who are considering a year of service should not have difficulties finding something that works for them.

Any questions about these programs or a year of service in general can be sent to Bethany Woods at or by visiting the Community Engagement Office located next to Campus Ministry in the Student Union.