Michigan's AmeriCorps Alum Spotlight
Ashley Bembenek knew she wanted to work with children – she just didn’t know where or how. Having just graduated from college, Ashley decided to do a year of service with the MARESA Get Ready, Get Reading AmeriCorps program to help her figure out what she wanted to do with her life.
The Marquette-Alger Regional Education Service Agency's (MARESA) Get Ready, Get Reading AmeriCorps program serves students in Pre K-5th grade across the central Upper Peninsula counties of Alger, Delta, Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft. AmeriCorps members provide focused one-to-one or small-group tutoring using evidence-based reading interventions and progress monitoring specifically targeted to reading need by grade level.
“My year with AmeriCorps not only gave me the opportunity to work closely with children, but it also allowed me to give back to my community, gain experience working with various ages, and create friendships and memories that will last my whole life,” Ashley stated. “It reaffirmed my desire to be life-long educator.”
Following her term of service in 2014-15, Ashley accepted a position as a 3rd grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Delta, Colorado. Participating in AmeriCorps helped open doors and gave Ashley a chance to network and meet new people. “More importantly, my service opened my mind to new ideas, and new opportunities that I would not have had if I was not part of AmeriCorps.”
Ashley continues to promote a spirit of service in a variety of ways. “I continue to serve the community in which I currently live. Though now my service is focused directly with students, I enjoy seeing youth get involved in their community. Being a part of that process whether its local food drives, raising money for a holiday toy drive, or simply picking up trash around the neighborhoods, it still gives me that chance to be part of something bigger. AmeriCorps gave me the confidence to set the bar high and reach for it, and that’s just what I’m trying to do.”