Meet Elexis Hamby, AmeriCorps member with Ohio Campus Compact at Kent State University. In her service role, Elexis helps to develop the student resource center on campus where students can go to be connected to basic needs such as food, housing supports, and more so they can reach their fullest potential. Learn more about Elexis’ impactful service and what motivates her to serve others via AmeriCorps. Question: What do you do as an AmeriCorps member? Answer: I serve through Ohio Campus Compact at Kent State University. Currently, I am helping to develop a student resource center where students can go to be connected to both on and off-campus resources. Essentially, this center will exist to ensure that students basic needs are met so that they can reach their fullest potential as a student and as a member of society. Throughout this process, I have been facilitating a campus pantry and referring those I serve to resources as well. Q: How has serving as an AmeriCorps member impacted your life? A: Being an AmeriCorps Member has impacted my life in a very substantial way. It has provided me with an outlet to give back to a cause/program that once gave to me. As a student at The University of Akron, I used their ZipAssist Center (student resource center). If it was not for ZipAssist covering a few emergency expenses, I may not have graduated on time or at all. I cannot be more appreciative to be in a position now to where I am helping to further develop and carry out a center that is already changing student’s lives. It has truly been an enriching experience so far and I am genuinely excited to see what this center becomes and how many lives it impacts. Q: How has COVID-19 impacted how you serve? A : COVID-19 has changed how I serve in almost every way. As one of the first people solely dedicated to the extended development and roll-out of our center, I have had to become very innovative in my approach to both student outreach and resource provision. In a normal (pre-COVID) environment, I would have spread awareness of both our center and available resources by attending and speaking at student-centered events, tabling, canvasing, through social media platforms as well as a variety of other methods. However, with most of our students learning remotely, and with the need as great as it has been, much of my communication with students has shifted to virtual events & classroom sessions and has occurred in partnership with other campus center outreach initiatives, or through hosting programs the abide by CDC guidelines. One program that we piloted this past semester was our Office of the Dean of Students Satellite Pantry. We made pantry visits appointment based, created a designated overflow space, made sure to clean and sanitize between all visits, and ensured that students were sanitizing and socially distancing as well. Q: What have you enjoyed most about your experience? A: I have really enjoyed building rapport with the students I serve. This rapport has been the catalyst to much needed resource provision, and that is the essence of my service. It feels amazing to know that my efforts and the efforts of those I serve with, are helping to keep students in school, engaged, and on the path to achieving their dreams and pursuing their callings. It is also truly heartwarming to observe students becoming advocates for other students as a result as well. Overall, I would say watching the “ripple-effect” that has taken place of “Flashes helping Flashes” has been the most rewarding aspect of my service term so far. This was most apparent during the last food drive our office hosted - where students, student organizations, staff, and faculty came together and donated over 2,100 pounds of food to support our pantry and their peers. Q: Would you recommend joining AmeriCorps to your peers? A: I wholeheartedly would recommend AmeriCorps to my peers. AmeriCorps has given me a sense of purpose, encouragement, motivation, and inspiration. It has made me feel like I am doing my part to make my community a better place and like I belong. Overall, it has added a layer of fulfillment to my life and is one of the best decisions I have made. I believe that anyone striving to make a profound impact in their community would greatly benefit from a year or several years in service as an AmeriCorps Member. Q: What’s next for you? A: I plan to renew my contract as an AmeriCorps member at the end of my service term. I want to see my service through to completion and feel as though I can have a greater impact alongside the team we are working to hire for our center. I am not entirely certain what I will do the following year. However, I do plan to pursue graduate school in the near future. After that, I could see myself operating a rehabilitation clinic for those who have been diagnosed with a disease, illness, or condition. I could also see myself teaching nutrition and dietetics in a university setting or working in a dialysis clinic as a registered dietitian.