Work with the Pack: AmeriCorps Provides Job Opportunities for New Graduates
Ameen Ahmad, who has spent the last year working with Feed the Pack food pantry through AmeriCorps VISTA, reflects on his experiences and offers advice for new graduates considering a job with the program.
As an aspiring physician, Ameen Ahmad is passionate about the overlap between health, diet and equitable access. He’s also passionate about working with underserved communities. That’s why he has spent his gap year before medical school working with NC State’s Feed the Pack Food Pantry through the AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) Program.
“I really see this experience as being inextricably linked to my desire to hopefully one day become a physician,” Ahmad said. “As of right now, I have aspirations to work with medically underserved populations in my future practice, and I want to be the type of physician who acknowledges my patients’ unique backgrounds and prescribes treatments that are in accordance with their capacities to access these types of services. I really saw AmeriCorps VISTA as an amazing opportunity to learn about equitable access in a tangible context.”
As an AmeriCorps VISTA with Feed the Pack, Ahmad primarily focuses on cultivating partnerships with community organizations and assisting in training programs for volunteers and ambassadors working to address food insecurity.
“This program is unique from other AmeriCorps programs in that it’s about indirect service,” Ahmad said. “I really see indirect service as a potential medium to address some of the root causes of poverty and other issues; to acknowledge the structural, historical and systemic factors that contribute to things like food and financial insecurity, and to utilize a framework that focuses on preventative care in order to provide the best individualized support.”
Throughout the program, Mondays have been Ahmad’s favorite day of the week. That’s when he and other Feed the Pack staff and volunteers pick up food for the pantry from various partners around Raleigh to restock the pantry for patrons each week.
“As part of our prep work on Mondays, we’re connecting with a lot of our partners, driving to the food bank, getting pizzas from Papa Murphy’s, getting deliveries from Interfaith Food Shuttle, going to Bread of Life to get a bunch of bread,” Ahmad said. “I always leave Mondays feeling happy that I’ve committed myself to this kind of work because it reminds me how fortunate we are to have such amazing partners that help us best serve the patrons of Feed the Pack.”
Feed the Pack plans to hire another AmeriCorps VISTA for the 2021-2022 academic year, and Ahmad highly recommends that graduating seniors consider the opportunity.
“AmeriCorps can be a great opportunity to serve as a springboard into some sort of long-term professional goal,” Ahmad said. “Something that’s really cool about my AmeriCorps VISTA cohort is that we’re all coming from different backgrounds and all have different interests in things that we want to do professionally, and I think that really speaks to the power of AmeriCorps VISTA in that it can provide you with skills and insights and other types of knowledge that are highly adaptable to a number of fields. If you are interested in service and working with the community towards a common goal, I highly recommend checking it out.”
More AmeriCorps Job Opportunities at NC State
NC State’s Juntos program also partners with AmeriCorps through the North Carolina Afterschool Corps VISTA. Juntos (pronounced “Who-n-toes”) means “Together” in Spanish and works to unite community partners to provide Latino 8-12th grade students and their parents across North Carolina and nationally with knowledge, skills, and resources to prevent youth from dropping out and to encourage families to work together to gain access to college.
Juntos will hire a VISTA for the upcoming academic year who will work on campus to support evaluations and statewide events, mentor work study students and work alongside the Juntos program assistant.
Learn more about the Juntos program here, and apply for the North Carolina Afterschool Corps VISTA position here.