Evan Hocter is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the Prescott Unified School District Education Foundation as an Alumni Engagement Coordinator.

One of the most common things I hear from fellow VISTAs is that Prescott, AZ is the smallest town they have lived in. In my case, Prescott has been the largest. Coming from a small(er) town in northern Alabama, there are many things familiar about “Everybody’s Hometown.” The friendly demeanor of my coworkers, the love of the outdoors, and of course the gleaming oversized pickup trucks. Despite this, some things come off as totally alien. The cowboy culture and rodeos, threats of bush fires, and most of all the arid landscape itself. There have been some adjustments on my part, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that I made the right decision with my 2,000-mile move.

My AmeriCorps journey began shortly before my graduation from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. I had majored in the infamously impractical field of History and had no clear prospects after college. At the time, I was reading a memoir in which the author mentioned his service in AmeriCorps. After doing a bit of research, I realized that the program would provide me with exactly what I was looking for: the chance to do meaningful work that had a positive impact on the world around me. After uploading my application, Arizona Serve reached out to me with a variety of job opportunities and a position with the Prescott Unified School District Education Foundation, in particular, stuck out. I was accepted after two rounds of interviews and I began teleserving on May 11, 2020. I finally moved out to Prescott on May 29, after a grueling three-day-long road trip.

Work with the PUSD Education Foundation has been extremely rewarding. My position has allowed me to interact with several interesting people from a wide range of backgrounds from the greater Prescott community. After graduation, I sought out work that would allow me to make a positive change in the world around me, and so far, Arizona Serve has given me exactly that. Hearing stories of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the school district’s ability to fund its classrooms and provide Prescott students with the same quality education they are used to is a great motivator. Through alumni engagement, I hope that I can mobilize this community to support the schools that they love. I have only just started my service year, and there is still a lot of progress to make, but I feel that it is absolutely possible.

I am lucky to have received this position and am proud to be a part of this cohort of AmeriCorps members. I’ve already met some of the nicest people I’ve ever known during my month of service, and it’s nice to know that others understand the unique position of moving from one coast to the other. I am happy to be here and am ready to hit the ground running with this project! Go Badgers!