Alumni Testimonials & Bios


Zeena is a recent graduate from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in Nutrition and Food. Zeena lived in the Middle East, specifically Lebanon, when she was younger and her family is from there. Experiencing her culture first-hand was something that was priceless and something she’ll never forget! Zeena is passionate about working with those from different ethnic backgrounds because she enjoys experience and learning about different cultures.


I am first and foremost a proud Muslim from South Florida (but I was born in Bangladesh). I am also a University of Richmond spider, Gates Millennium Scholar, an avid language learner who can speak 5 languages (more in progress), double majored in International Studies and Arabic, and lived two spirited years abroad in Jordan and Italy. As someone who has experienced multiculturalism in all its forms- the good, bad, and the ugly- immigrant and refugee issues are among my horde of passions. Refugee AmeriCorps is an important initiative needed to unite American communities to the disenfranchised people of the world regardless of their dissimilar backgrounds. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of a team that is working with these ever so relevant issues fresh out of college and I look forward to an enriching year of service with CWS. Aside from obtaining tension migraines over humanitarian issues, I enjoy brooding over the sure-to-be-complicated cultures of my future descendants and other hypertension inducing thoughts only a culture and language preservationist, environmentalist, and feminist can have. To combat such contemplations from hijacking my mental sanity, I like to concoct my own food and drink recipes, imitate Shakespeare, plant things, plot ways to get my cat to love me, and watch intolerable TV.


Mackenzie is a recent graduate from The Ohio State University, with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health and a specialization in Sociology. She will be completing health-focused ICOs for refugees and hopes to empower refugees to utilize primary care and preventative health care to live longer, healthier lives. Mackenzie will return to Ohio State after her AmeriCorps year of service to obtain a dual Masters in Public Health and Social Work, before continuing her work with refugees. In her free time, she enjoys a cappella music, Ohio State football, and petting dogs she passes on the street.


Dureti is a recent graduate from Michigan State University, with Interdisciplinary Studies major concentrating in Health, Society, and a minor in Anthropology. She has a lot of excellent cross-cultural experience due to her background and interests. She is interested to learn more about different cultures around the world. She is also very interested to learn about how different cultures look at health issues and illnesses. Originally from Oromia region of Ethiopia, being Oromo is one of the things Dureti values very much along with being Muslim.


My name is Birendra. I am the Refugee AmeriCorps Housing Orientation Coordinator with CWS. I worked in Nepal as the Assistant Vocational Training Coordinator and Assistant Youth Friendly Center Coordinator for Caritas Nepal. Working for refugees and immigrants has always been my passion, and AmeriCorps gave me a right platform to work on my interests. The experience as an AmeriCorps member is so much holistic that the growth I have seen in myself over the months is not only fulfilling but realistic too. I have been able to receive various trainings and I look forward to growing more in my understanding of my life and career as I fulfill my responsibilities as a Refugee AmeriCorps Housing Coordinator.


My name is Jeremy, and I have just started my year of service with AmeriCorps.  I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Millersville University.  I have always wanted to do something that is worth getting out of bed in the morning. Working for a corporation or company and striving to increase their profits did not seem very worth it. That is why I applied to AmeriCorps as my first professional job out of college. It will give me the professional experience I need to succeed in the future while doing something worthwhile. The next summer I came back to volunteer.  I did the same this past summer.  It was then that I learned about the AmeriCorps position.


Francesca is a graduate from St. Olaf College, where she studied Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology. Francesca is passionate about helping newly arrived refugees learn more about their community and attain self-sufficiency. As an Intensive Community Orientation AmeriCorps Member, Francesca develops Intensive Cultural Orientation curriculum, expands supportive volunteer and community relationships, and utilizes interactive and experiential teaching methodologies. Prior to her new role as an Intensive Community Orientation AmeriCorps Member, Francesca worked for Minnesota Council of Churches as an Employment Services Intern, where she helped refugees enter the workforce and achieve upward mobility. Francesca is well-versed in the needs of her community through her work and internships. Her research has focused on finding new ways to implement necessary and lasting change for vulnerable communities through policy change and advocacy.


Cassidy graduated from the University of South Florida, where she majored in international studies and communication with a concentration in public advocacy. She has always had an interest in directly serving her community and learning about other cultures and ways of life. During Cassidy’s service, she would like to learn more about the refugee community and help make the integration process easier for all refugees. Above all, she would like to create lasting community partnerships that enable the community to grow together.

Name: Not Provided

It is our differences that make us strong. Diversity is too often seen as a weakness, and not as the strength and continual learning opportunity that it is. Hi, I am a member of the Refugee AmeriCorps Program! I am a recent graduate from Calvin College. I grew up being a little different from everyone around me. While some disliked my difference, others saw it as a something beautiful and some even called it a gift. I studied International Relations with the hope of being able to help improve policy in the US, so that more are able to go to school here, and so that more can enjoy the sanctuary and safety of the United States in comparison to their home countries. I chose to work in the Refugee AmeriCorps Initiative because the position offers experience in a world that I have always found to be very interesting, and that I have always wanted to learn more about. I am very excited to be serving this year, and look forward to seeing how I grow and change with the new experiences.


Jessica was born in California and has lived between Egypt and the US for the past 10 years. She graduated from Denison University in 2015 with a BA in Political Science. During her time at Denison, she worked as an Arabic Teaching Assistant and developed a passion for social justice, women’s rights and international development. She joined the Refugee AmeriCorps Initiative June 1st. A first generation American, she is excited about serving and making a positive and sustainable impact.


Paige is the Intensive Community Orientation AmeriCorps Member at her site, where she has been actively working and volunteering at since September 2015. Paige holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arabic, and it was a study abroad trip to Jordan in 2015 where she discovered a passion for working with refugees. In her spare time, Paige likes to cook, attend Washington Nationals games when she can, and hang out with her cats Paisley and Poe.


Megan Hinton joined Church World Service in July 2017 as an Intensive Community Orientation AmeriCorps Member. Megan graduated from James Madison University in 2015 with a B.A. in International Affairs and History. Previously, Megan worked as a Program/Publications Assistant at the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery in Harrisonburg, VA and as Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the future, she hopes to attend a graduate program in public affairs or administration.


Hey I’m Emily! I’m a Michigan Wolverines fan living in Buckeye Nation, and because of that I am stronger. I have passions for different cultures, people, hiking, and ice cream! I graduated from Cornerstone University with a degree in Social Work/Social Justice and I’m passionate about refugee services. I’m so excited for this year of service with AmeriCorps and all that I’ll be learning!


Hi, my name is Fareedah. I recently graduated with my Bachelors of Science from the University of Pittsburgh. At Pitt, I was involved in on-campus organizations and off campus work with local resettlement agencies. Through my involvement, I became increasingly interested in community health. I hope that my year with AmeriCorps allows me to gain the tools necessary to continue working to increase healthcare knowledge and accessibility within refugee communities.


Prior to serving with AmeriCorps, Sarah received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Ramapo College, where she focused on human rights, migration, and cultural anthropology. During her education, Sarah spent four months in Karnataka, India, where she conducted research on rights of displaced tribal persons. Her passions include learning languages, traveling, and writing.


Brittany has both a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language and a Master’s degree in Secondary Education specializing in ESL from Liberty University. Her professional experiences vary from instructing at various higher-education IEP programs to teaching community ESL classes for adults. Brittany has previously taught ESL in India, Turkey, and Greece. Her experiences visiting and working with asylum seekers in Turkey and the island of Chios, Greece inspired her to become more fully involved in the refugee resettlement process in the United States. Brittany is excited to play a part in welcoming and empowering refugees in their journey towards peaceful resettlement through her role as an Intensive Community Orientation AmeriCorps Member.