Meet our AmeriCorps Members in Service


I grew up in Afghanistan with family of nine. I graduated from high school. I went to college for two years in Parwan province. I worked with the US army as an interpreter for five years while I was a college student. Life is not easy or simple in my country. Especially if you work with the army. After working with the army, I got a Special Immigrant Visa to travel to United States of America. I resettled in Richmond Virginia in 2015. I started from very beginning my new life in this country as a refugee. I start working and going to school again. I started building relationships with my new friends. Now I serve as a Americorps Member at CWS Richmond office and I am very happy with what I have right now!


I was born in a small village in Pakistan, where women are not allowed to get higher education. Fortunately for me, my aunt who herself was a refugee from Afghanistan, sponsored my mom and we (me and my six siblings) came with her to the U.S. in 2008. It was very hard in the beginning because none of us could speak English, so I enrolled in ESL classes. I attended a community college and then transferred to University of California Davis. I graduated with degrees in Biological Sciences and Psychology. The reason I want to work with CWS AmeriCorps is to help refugees who are in the same situation we were in when we first got here. We didn’t have health insurance when we came to the US, so we would go to this free health clinic and the people there would always go out of their way to help us out in any way they could. I want to pay it forward by helping refugees resettle in their new lives here.


Gabriela has an Associates degree in Arts at Palm Beach State College, and will pursue a bachelor degree majoring in International Relations and a minor in Politics and Human Rights, with high hopes of being able to continue her education at Marymount Manhattan College in New York. Gabriela speaks both English and Spanish and is from a Colombian household. She is the first generation of her family to be a citizen of the US. She served as Vice President in Student Government at Palm Beach State College, where she realized she loved being able to make a change in people’s lives through politics and nonprofit work. Her love toward helping others is never ending and she continuously strives to make others happy. She is excited to serve as an AmeriCorps Member at CWS Palm Beach.


Kiley is a recent James Madison University graduate where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Kiley’s other academic interests include statistics, communication, and humanitarian affairs. During her undergraduate experience, she travelled to Spain for a study abroad trip where she worked with a non-profit to create and apply for funding for humanitarian programs. Kiley also spent time interning at Church World Service prior to becoming an AmeriCorps member where she gave ESL lessons, helped provide childcare during classes and events, and helped to coordinate various classes. After completing her term of service, Kiley plans to attend law school.


Katherine Faulkner is the Intensive Community Orientation AmeriCorps Member for CWS- Greensboro. Though originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Katherine has called Greensboro her official home-base for the past ten years. She is a recent graduate of Arcadia University, where she majored in International Studies and focused her undergraduate thesis on the institutional and political complexities of resettling disabled refugees in the United States and Uganda. In the summer of 2016, Katherine had the privilege of interning with CWS- Greensboro, and it was that experience that made her realize her passions for both refugee resettlement and nonprofit work. Katherine is beyond thrilled


Zaina Ujayli is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University where she studied English with a focus in postcolonial studies. During university, she completed an undergraduate thesis on the changing representations of Muslim women and a research project on the struggles Third Culture kids encounter in American universities. The thesis placed first in the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. As a Syrian American who grew up in Saudi Arabia, issues pertaining to refugees and immigration have always been important to her, which led Zaina to join CWS as an Intensive Community Orientation AmeriCorps member, working to help refugees with housing. In addition to academics, Zaina is also an avid writer, and her short stories have won Honorable Mentions and First Place in Writers of the Future and Parsec Ink contests. You can find Zaina in a local coffee shop Friday night writing or playing cards with friends.


Rachael, as of August, will be officially graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. She considers herself to be an advocate for cultural awareness and diversity which developed through her campus involvement. She served as the president of a Latina-based multicultural sorority, and worked in various programs through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Multicultural Center. In addition, she has a strong interest in supporting immigrant rights. She is looking forward to helping and being a part of the refugee experience through her work with AmeriCorps. Rachael enjoys traveling (Brazil and Cuba down, so many more to go!), dancing, working out, and learning about different cultures.


Christina currently lives in Lancaster, PA, where she was born. Previously, Christina lived in southern California for thirteen years – six years in Long Beach, CA and seven years in Palm Springs, CA. While in California, Christina worked in property management, mortgage, as a loan processor and had a real estate license and worked at ReMax and Coldwell Banker in Commercial Development and Commercial Leasing. Christina works part-time with adults with traumatic brain injury in residential care. Christina has always devoted herself to volunteer work. Currently, she volunteers with a local Domestic Violence Shelter, which provides shelter for both men and women of domestic violence, and a homeless shelter, often using her home as transitional living for individuals who can’t find permanent housing. Christina is pursuing her Master of Social Work at Millersville University. She loves to garden, take in stray animals and is thankful to have good health and strength. She has a son who lives in San Diego and a daughter who resides in Lancaster.


Hi my name is Grace and I’m an architecture and engineer student here in Michigan. I come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and lived in Kenya before moving to the States. Hence I speak 4 and ½ languages (English /French /Swahili /Lingala / Tshiluba). My passion for building environments and their effect on the people which they serve directed me to join as an AmeriCorps member with CWS. My hope is that interacting with people of different backgrounds, especially those from war torn countries, will give me a better understanding of the environment which people will need, and ultimately, make me a better architect for my home country where I plan to work.


My name is Hamed. I am from Afghanistan. I graduated from high school in 2012. I started working with United States military advisors in my country as interpreter/ translator in DynCorp International Company. Our mission was to train Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan army (ANA). I participated in training classes to train the ANP and ANA in many different parts of their duties. During the five years working with US army advisors, I put my life in jeopardy, received threats, and faced rocket launches and suicide bombers. I survived, and unfortunately I lost some of my friends in these incidents who eagerly wanted to help the people who really need help. The dedication they had was admirable. We were willing to perform the hard work of helping the people who suffered from poverty, lack of security, education, corruption and unemployment in their lives. We always focused on the glory we could create and focused on the difference that we could make in the lives of other people. It inspired me to struggle to the challenges that I faced and ever gave up helping others. In 2014, I moved as a refugee to start new life. I worked as a taxi driver and volunteered at CWS. I have taken refugees shopping, to the DMV for driving tests, and registered them in English classes. I am serving as AmeriCorps member (since July, 2016) and have been helping other refugees with home and health orientation. I feel very happy to working in CWS, because I am helping those people who are really in need of help, and I can understand the unique need of refugees, because I came through this process. I am also in the unique position to advocate for our work, our clients, and our impact–including how our clients improve their knowledge in the area of housing and health to adjust themselves to the community and become self -sufficient in short period of time. It has been my honor to be part of this program to implement Intensive Community Orientation ( ICO ) to the many different refugees we resettle. It is rewarding to see them become self-sufficient and engaged in a healthy community.


My name is Faridah. I was born in Republic of Congo (DRC). I was a refugee in the Uganda Nakivale camp. I worked with refugees for five years. I moved to the USA in February 2014 and started to work at Pompieri pizza. I started as a dishwasher and moved up to the line cook position. In 2014, I started taking CNA classes and interpreting at CWS. I am fluent in Kinyarwanda, Swahili, French, Kinyabwisha and Luganda. At CWS, I worked with newly arrived refugees, showing them how to open bank accounts and how to use the bus. In my free time, my son and I like to watch movies. I am excited to be serving a second year as an AmeriCorps member.