Labor and Economic Opportunity
Jennifer Torner always knew that she wanted to pursue further education but she credits her time spent serving in the Together We Prepare AmeriCorps program for helping shape her choice of degree into one focused on humanitarianism and crisis response. In 2018-19, Jennifer joined AmeriCorps to serve as a Disaster Cycle Services Associate at the American Red Cross Southeastern Michigan Chapter in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Together We Prepare AmeriCorps members improve the capacity of communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters by providing disaster preparedness education and direct assistance to individuals experiencing disaster.
“My time serving at the American Red Cross in Ann Arbor afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with a wide variety of people, travel across the state and take on a number of leadership roles,” Jennifer noted. She developed close relationships with other AmeriCorps members serving in other communities, got to lead many projects, and was able to create and execute her region’s Sound the Alarm campaign. “This service and these experiences gave me an increased sense of confidence in professional settings, in my own creative and leadership abilities, and have driven me to take on more leadership roles,” Jennifer reflected. “I was able to grow as a person, both professionally and personally.”
After completing her AmeriCorps service year, Jennifer moved to Geneva, Switzerland to pursue a master’s program at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in the subject area of International Development. “My AmeriCorps service strongly influenced both my educational and career goals,” she said. “I want to continue in a career path that will allow me to be hands on with communities. Last fall, I worked with a non-profit on engaging students on issues of nuclear non-proliferation. Currently, I am the co-director of an educational program for a local non-profit that teaches students and young professionals problem solving and design thinking methods that focus primarily on the needs of the end user, or the needs of the community. This is a crucial skill for students to learn as the end user should be the factor of main concern when designing international or local development projects. Additionally, when I complete my degree program, I am looking to enter a career in public service either within the United States or internationally.”