Was AmeriCorps Worth It?

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National Service
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Rachel Ogorek

Rachel Ogorek, center, poses with two friends during a break at a project site. Rachel completed her AmeriCorps term in August 2012.

In celebration of my two years of service with AmeriCorps coming to an end, one of my friends took me out to dinner. As we sat around the table reflecting on all that had happened over the two years since we graduated from college she asked me, “Was AmeriCorps worth it?”

This simple question bears reflection, but. I replied without hesitation, “Yes, service is always worth it.”

As a 24 year old, I sometimes have anxiety about the future which causes me to worry about the present. Am I making the right career choices? Should I go back to graduate school? Was AmeriCorps the right decision for me after college?

Presently, the experiences I have had with AmeriCorps and the lessons I have learned in two short years have helped shape and define me in so many ways. I know the skills I developed through AmeriCorps will help me be a better employee and a lifelong community member. My work challenged me to invest in a new community, allowed me to develop new relationships, and encouraged me to find innovative ways to tackle community problems.

This scenic view shows the rock formations behind an AmeriCorps water bottle from the program Community Building Partnerships for Youth in Transition.

In the future, I believe I will look on my time in AmeriCorps as one of the most significant periods of growth in my life. As the service days I founded continue to live on, I will be proud of the changes that are taking place in the community. I know I will eventually be able to laugh at the creative ways I stretched my living stipend to last the month and I will be thankful I know how to live on a budget.

I hope my legacy will be to look for and find the existing assets within a community and bring them together for a cohesive, unified body for change. I hope this vision catches fire among the students I left behind so they will continue to believe they can make a difference and change the world around them.

Rachel Ogorek currently lives in Denver and completed her AmeriCorps service in August 2012.

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