Each year, MCAN recognizes AmeriCorps Week as a way to thank and celebrate our currently serving AmeriCorps members, the staff and on-site supervisors who support them, and the many AmeriCorps alumni who have come through our programs.

MCAN has been a proud supporter of AmeriCorps since our inception, and we’re honored to host two AmeriCorps programs: AdviseMI and College Completion Corps. Additionally, we’re tremendously pleased to have strong partnerships with the Michigan State University College Advising Corps, Michigan College Advising Corps, and the Michigan Community Service Commission VISTA program. All of the members who have served in these programs have leveraged their AmeriCorps service to launch their own careers while making a huge impact in communities and helping Michigan get closer to achieving Sixty by 30.

These AmeriCorps alumni join the over 1.25 million AmeriCorps alumni across the country who continue to do amazing things and carry forward the principles of the AmeriCorps pledge:

I will get things done for America - to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy, I will take action.
Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity, I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.

Because of the contributions of AmeriCorps members and alumni in the state of Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a proclamation recognizing March 12-18, 2023 as AmeriCorps Week in Michigan.

At MCAN, we have six AmeriCorps alumni on staff who continue to serve our state by working to get more Michigan students to and through college. We’ve asked them to reflect on their service experience and how it has impacted their ongoing work.

Ryan Hoppenworth

Strategy Assistant, Service Strategy
Service experience: MSU College Advising Corps, Sandusky Jr./Sr. High School and Peck High School, 2020-2021; College Completion Corps, Kellogg Community College, 2021-2022

My favorite memory from service was getting to see all the students I supported graduate and take the next steps in their lives. I was lucky enough to support two very distinct populations of students during my time in AmeriCorps. As a college adviser, I supported high school students, and as a completion coach, I supported community college students over the age of 25. All of these students faced some form of adversity during their time in school. Being able to work with them throughout their educational journeys and see them graduate was a very proud moment for me.

My time in AmeriCorps helped me to develop my leadership ability. From leading students to assisting my fellow AmeriCorps members, I was able to gain confidence in myself and my ability to inspire. I use these skills every day to support and advocate for AmeriCorps members across the state of Michigan. My fantastic experience with AmeriCorps led me directly to pursuing a career at MCAN. The service that our AmeriCorps members provide the community is invaluable, and I want to support them and help MCAN grow.

Lexi Michalski

Partnership Manager, AdviseMI
Service experience: MSU College Advising Corps, Algonac High School, 2014-2016

My favorite memory of AmeriCorps service is assisting students with scholarship applications and essays. It gave me the opportunity to learn more about them. Students would come in to my office saying they didn't know what to write about. We would spend several meetings focusing on what they were good at and editing the essay to reflect those strengths. It was a great way to build up students and help them realize how amazing they truly are. I convinced several students who were not going to apply to go for it, and they won their scholarships.

My AmeriCorps service taught me how to think flexibly on the job and expanded my problem solving skills. It also gave me first hand insight into how college advising can have a massive impact on not only the lives of students but also the community as a whole. I continue to use the professional skills I learned during my service years, from being willing to listen and connect with others to using critical thinking to look for solutions to problems. I credit my service years with helping guide me toward becoming a licensed school social worker, and the knowledge I gained from being an AmeriCorps member informed how I interact with schools and advisers in my role as AdviseMI partnership manager.

Kiersten Nolan

Strategy Assistant, High School Innovation
Service experience: City Year Denver, John F. Kennedy High School, 2019-2020; Michigan Community Service Commission VISTA, MCAN, 2020-2021

My favorite memories my time with AmeriCorps are the moments I was able to celebrate the growth of the students I was working with. I specifically remember the time I told one of the students I'd been goal setting with all year that I was choosing them as my City Year "Spotlight." As I watched the shock on their face turn to excitement about being recognized for their hard work, I felt privileged to have witnessed their growth and to give them the celebration they deserved.

City Year gave me an incredible school team that I was able to trust and rely on when times were tough, and I still consider them to be some of my dearest friends. Through AmeriCorps, I also learned to trust myself and my abilities, and developed a confidence I don't think I could have developed anywhere else.

Jenny McArdle

Director, Service Strategy
Service experience: The LEAGUE Michigan VISTA, 2011-2012; Michigan Nonprofit Association VISTA Leader, 2012-2013

During my service experience, I was fortunate to be able to support dozens of impactful service-learning projects with students and schools all over Jackson County. One that stood out was getting to work with a group of high school students to create videos and messaging for their peers to help combat hunger in their community and raise awareness. These young leaders were passionate and hard-working, and they helped me see the power of young people to create a better world.

My AmeriCorps service shaped my professional journey by allowing me to see and interact with amazing people doing amazing things — nonprofit champions, philanthropic leaders, education administrators, and higher education advocates. I got to see the potential that service had to positively impact individuals and communities. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my career than joining this good fight alongside these inspirational Michiganders.

Lacey Tullis

Partnership Manager, College Completion Corps
Service experience: College Completion Corps, Montcalm Community College, 2020-2022

My favorite AmeriCorps memory happened in my first year of service. In the summer, I often drive barefoot. I headed into service on a hot September day, stepped out of my car without my keys and locked myself out. My cellphone, laptop, and all of my personal belongings, including my shoes, were locked in my car. I had to facilitate a group activity without any notes, slides, or shoes! Thankfully, I knew my students well, and they all got a good laugh out of my unlucky circumstance, but more importantly, they all realized that I was human, too.

I think the most important skills set that I took away from service was communication and collaboration. I had the opportunity to observe and learn a great deal about communication styles and how to best collaborate with all types of thinkers and personalities. My service also helped me learn a lot about myself and my professional and educational interests. After spending time in the higher education setting, I knew I wanted to find an opportunity to help improve success and access on all community college campuses. My AmeriCorps experience with the College Completion Corps made me a good fit for my current role as partnership manager at MCAN.

Katie Wittenauer

Director, Strategic Engagement
Service experience: Teach for America, South Louisiana Opelousas Jr. High School, 2005-2007

Some of my favorite AmeriCorps memories are from the time I spent with the first cohort of Opelousas Jr. High School's drama club. The students gathered together after school several days a week to rehearse. They performed at school assemblies, and we even traveled to Baton Rouge to see a performance of STOMP. I applied for a grant to start the club after hearing from so many students about their interest in a space to be creative and experiment with theatre, and serving as the club coordinator was an honor and an invaluable experience.

AmeriCorps gave me my first opportunity to be a teacher, and I can't overstate how grateful I am for that experience leading to the past 15 years of working with students and educational organizations. It also gave me the chance to learn from my peers at the school and across the TFA South Louisiana network, and to recognize how much I wanted to return to school to learn more about teaching writing and grant writing.