Did you know that we have three CCCS graduates who are now working at the CCCS McClellan campus to support students through Americorps? We are extremely proud of our Americorps staff: King Pacheco, Regina Galushchak, and Tiffany Mines.
Americorps is a program that connects volunteers with a network of service programs to meet community needs in a variety of areas, including education. Our Americorps volunteers are here through the Youth Investment Center, and they definitely invest in youth in significant ways at CCCS. Although they are called volunteers, this is a paid position through a partnership between Americorps and CCCS. In addition, at the end of their service, they will qualify for an education award that can be applied toward college.
CCCS Principal Jon Campbell appreciates the reputation Americorps has as a well-known community partner in our area for many non-profit organizations. He says, “It’s a great way to provide an opportunity for recent graduates as well as an opportunity for our current students to connect with people who have been where they are and understand what it takes to graduate. Our Americorps volunteers understand what our students are going through in a way that no other staff members can.”
King Pacheco is our longest serving Americorps volunteer, currently in his third year. When he was a student at CCCS, he held the record for the most service learning volunteer hours ever completed by a CCCS student with 136 hours, a record that still stands today. King graduated in 2012. He says, “When I was here [as a student], there was an Americorps member who pushed me and gave me support to stay in school and graduate. I wanted to give that same support to students.” King helps students in the lab and has an important role in service learning, helping facilitate all the trips and supporting students with their individual hours and presentations. When asked what his favorite part about his work is, King said: “When I see kids succeed and graduate. It’s been a great experience … it feels great to do what I do.”
Regina Galushchak graduated from CCCS in 2015. She had a job as a cashier, but felt that she could do something more. She wanted to work with Americorps at CCCS because all her role models are here and she has such a connection to the school. She wants to be a role model for students and appreciates the Americorps training on being alert to students who may be in trouble and need help. Regina is strong in math, and her skills are invaluable in lab, where she not only helps students with their assignments – especially math – but also encourages them to look toward the future and see the possibilities of what they can do and be. Regina is currently attending Sierra Community College, and she will use the educational funding from Americorps as she continues college, with plans to become an engineer.
Tiffany Mines is our most recent graduate, from the class of 2016. Tiffany describes her work through Americorps as being a youth mentor: advocating for youth, helping them with any needs they may have, tutoring them, and checking in with them. She works one-on-one with students in the middle school and elementary school for reading and homework help, she supervises groups, and assists teachers. Tiffany has registered for community college next semester, and plans to use the Americorps education award as she continues college. She values the skills she’s learned in Americorps training, such as money management and cultural proficiency. At first, Tiffany didn’t realize how important her role was, but now she says: “I am realizing how much students count on us to be there for them. My favorite part about this work is seeing how much they improve as we’re helping them. Americorps is a great starting point, a way to learn skills and give back to the community.”
For staff members at CCCS, graduation day is a highlight of the year: a day to celebrate our students’ significant accomplishments and launch them into the next phase of their lives. At the same time, we know as we watch students walk across the stage in cap and gown that we are going to miss seeing them on campus on a regular basis. With our graduates in Americorps, we have the best of both worlds: we see them graduate, and then we see them every day as they use their gifts and talents to make a difference right here at CCCS.