Although unforeseen, Hannah Leonard called her AmeriCorps experience unforgettable, since she never would have imagined joining AmeriCorps or moving to Arizona when she was younger. 

What motivated her?

Fresh out of earning her undergrad in coastal environmental science, she wanted to gain experience working with the government and serving in an area that she was not well versed in to expand her skill set. Initially, she was set on joining the Peace Corps, thinking that she would move to Nepal for two years and have a life-changing experience, but then the world shut down due to COVID.

She was a bit lost after hearing the news, but she still wanted to explore new parts of the world, so after a college friend told her about AmeriCorps, she did a bit of research. She realized that if she joined AmeriCorps, she would get to live in a new place, so she researched and applied for positions across the West, and man was she lucky where she ended up. 

After weighing her options, Hannah decided to dedicate one year of her life to serving at a local branch of United Way, a nonprofit focused on supporting other charities throughout its community. The position allowed her to see behind the curtain into the world of nonprofits. There she not only learned about the organizational structure of various types of nonprofits, but also the gritty details of how they get things done.

How did it help her?

Through working with new people and learning about the invaluable impact of nonprofits, she discovered what she wants to do in the future: combine her degree and AmeriCorps experience to work for an environmental nonprofit in the future.

Furthermore, she found Arizona Serve to be specifically beneficial to her life changing experience as a VISTA. AZ Serve provided a supporting community that not only gave her great friends and relationships, but valuable skills and training as well. Without the network, she is certain that her experience moving across the country would not have been as enjoyable.

Ultimately, although her AmeriCorps experience was not what Hannah expected, it will forever hold a special place in her life since it has given her so many unforgettable memories.