AmeriCorps South Carolina Brand Ambassadors are giving us insight to the direct service they provide around our state! These AmeriCorps members were nominated to this position by their Program Directors because they have proven themselves to be exemplary in their service roles, natural leaders, and creative voices. Meet our inaugural class of AmeriCorps SC Brand Ambassadors below, and look out for them on our social media accounts to find out all of the great things they are accomplishing around our state.
Miranda Baldwin is an AmeriCorps member with SBP. She is from Levittown, Pennsylvania, and went to St. John’s University in Queens, New York where she earned her Master’s in International Relations. Although Miranda misses her family up north and hates missing birthdays, engagements, and other memories with her family; she knows that serving in AmeriCorps in South Carolina was the right choice. She joined AmeriCorps to follow in her parents’ footsteps. They were both in the Marine Corps for over 20 years, and they inspired Miranda to find her own way to serve her country. Her favorite part of AmeriCorps is working with people who have the same relentless drive to serve their community, no matter the hours, no matter the frustration.
Catrina Conyers is an AmeriCorps member with the Reading Success Program at United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties. This is Catrina’s third AmeriCorps term of service! She is from Sumter, South Carolina, and she attended Central Carolina Technical College. She joined AmeriCorps to give back to her community, and she is excited that this term of service is in the education sector. She loves children and the ability to use her creativity when working with them.
Dani Buckhiester of Greenville, SC is currently serving as Team Lead for AmeriCorps Upstate with United Way of Greenville County. After graduating from Furman University in 2015 as a Political Science major and Poverty Studies minor, Dani served her first AmeriCorps term from 2015-2016 at the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority. Passionate about community and service, Dani is an active member of the Junior League of Greenville and enjoys being outdoors, reading, and spending time with her two cats, Minerva and Regulus.
Gary Hutchins II serves with Black River United Way at Sampit Elementary. He is from our neighbor to the north and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. He graduated from North Carolina State University where he studied Biological Sciences. GaryH wanted to shift gears a little for his AmeriCorps term of service, so he signed up for the early childhood literacy program with Black River United Way. He loves getting involved with the community and making meaningful connections with students as their educator and mentor. One fun fact about Gary is that he is ambidextrous!
Rachel Jaffe is an AmeriCorps member who serves at Memminger Elementary with Reading Partners. She is from Silver Springs, Maryland, and she moved to South Carolina to attend the College of Charleston where she earned a BA in Communications. Rachel has always been passionate about service and education, and she used to be a volunteer with Reading Partners when she was still in college. She loves that being a Site Coordinator with Reading Partners allows her to meet so many different people who come from many walks of life and exchange ideas with them. Rachel’s passion for diversity spans into her personal life as well. She loves to travel, and even went to India last summer!
Carrie Kolb is an AmeriCorps member with United Way of Greenville County, and she serves at Big Brother Big Sister of the Upstate. She grew up nearby in Anderson, South Carolina and attended Clemson University where she got a BA in Writing with a minor in Women’s Studies. She has done other terms of AmeriCorps service in South Dakota. Carrie loves AmeriCorps because of the service she can provide to others, and the opportunities it brings her to make professional connections that will advance her career following her time with AmeriCorps. While Carrie has downtime, she loves to travel with her two children!
Sarah Kwitnieski is an AmeriCorps member with Communities in Schools of the Midlands. She grew up in Ashburn, Virginia, but was born in Warsaw, Poland! Sarah moved to South Carolina to attend USC, where she is a double major in Marketing and Management. Sarah joined AmeriCorps to become more integrated with her new community and to give back to the Midlands. Her favorite parts about AmeriCorps are the people she gets to meet and witnessing the impact that both Communities in Schools and AmeriCorps have on her community.
Lexus Lawrence is an AmeriCorps member with the Claflin University Saturday Academy. She is from Houston, Texas, but she moved to South Carolina for college. She studies Psychology and Criminal Justice at Claflin, and she intends to use her degrees to spread awareness of legal regulation and mental health to underserved communities. Lexus joined AmeriCorps because she saw it as a great opportunity to give back to her community and to give her a stepping stone into what she would like to accomplish after college. Her favorite part of her AmeriCorps term of service is working with her students on Saturdays. Lexus loves kids, and she attributes this to the fact that she has nine siblings!
Katie McCoy is an AmeriCorps member with Teach for America. She grew up in Walhalla, South Carolina and she holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the College of Charleston as well as a Master’s degree in Museum Education from George Washington University. Although Katie went to school to improve education through informal learning at museums, she realized that she could make a more substantial impact serving directly in the classroom, which is why she joined TFA to work with students who have special needs. Katie is an unstoppable force inside and outside of the classroom. She is legally blind and comes to school every day with a guide dog, she is a certified yoga instructor, and she has run a marathon!
Reggie Mister is an AmeriCorps member with SBP. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and completed his undergraduate education at Winthrop University. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Economics and Statistics at Clemson University. Although he grew up thinking he was going to be an astronaut. Although Reggie’s plans have changed a bit, his high aspirations have not wavered. Reggie joined AmeriCorps because he refuses to be a part of a society that turns a blind eye to people in need. His favorite part about AmeriCorps is getting to meet so many different people and interacting with like-minded peers with whom he serves.
Talisha Robinson is an AmeriCorps member with the United Way of Greenville County, and she serves with the Anderson County School District. Talisha grew up in Easley, South Carolina and received a degree in Business Administration from Grand Canyon University. Joining AmeriCorps was a logical step for Talisha because she wanted to grow her professional network while serving her community. Talisha is an avid learner herself, and she might have some unique teaching methods because she loves reading, but she reads books backwards -- from the conclusion to the introduction because she does not like surprises!
Rebecca Zimmerman is an AmeriCorps member with the Laurens County Community. She grew up right in Clinton, South Carolina and attended Furman University. Rebecca hopes to use her Segal Education Award to go to graduate school in Library Science after AmeriCorps! Rebecca wants to become a school librarian, and she is already great with kids—she knows how to make balloon animals and does this at community events! Rebecca’s favorite part of AmeriCorps is giving back to her hometown. Growing up, she saw the benefits of Laurens County Community, and after college she wanted to become a part of that in order to help the underserved parts of her community.
Jai McKinney is a Charleston native serving his second term of service with the Sustainability Institute. He attended Marion Military Institute and earned an Associate’s Degree in Science before joining the Army in 1998. Back in civilian life, Jai is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. Jai loves the comradery that the Veterans Conservation Corps provides, and sees AmeriCorps as a great place to start to develop plans to reach his goals of starting a similar business of his own. When he is no weatherizing and retrofitting homes, Jai loves spending time with his 3 sons and 1 daughter.
LaWana Roberts is an Americorps Family Navigator at East Cooper Community Outreach. She graduated from Winthrop University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and received her Master’s in Social work from the University of Michigan in 2012. After receiving her degrees, LaWana worked in Law Enforcement and Social Services helping to provide services and resources to the Charleston community. LaWana currently lives in North Charleston with husband Brandon and 1 year old daughter Lelonna. She is working towards getting her license in Social work to one day counsel individuals.
Marcella Simmons serves as an AmeriCorps member with the Sustainability Institute. She was born and raised in Charleston, and she is a graduate of Benedict College in Columbia. She is a retired military medic, and loves to stay involved with her community. She is a member of the Salem Missionary Baptist Church and volunteers with the YWCA, March of Dimes, American Red Cross, and Low Country Community Emergency Response Team.
To see our Brand Ambassadors in action, follow AmeriCorps SC on Facebook and Instagram!