VISTA Volunteer Hopes to Connect Students with Career Passion

Published: Jan 10, 2012
Kelly Hollibaugh is the AmeriCorps VISTA member working in UT’s Office of Student Leadership and Engagement.
Kelly Hollibaugh is the AmeriCorps VISTA member working in UT’s Office of Student Leadership and Engagement.
Kelly Hollibaugh has long been a believer in learning by doing.

Hollibaugh, the new AmeriCorps VISTA member working in UT’s Office of Student Leadership and Engagement, has studied in Gambia and worked in a center helping to prevent child trafficking.

After she graduated from Juniata College in Pennsylvania in 2008 with her degree in international development, she got a job with the Princeton Review and headed off to South Korea where her work took her all over Southeast Asia.

She returned to Gambia and Senegal to work on a short-term assignment on awareness and empowerment issues with Conscience International. Her experience has inspired her to start her own social enterprise, West African Artistry, helping connect artists with customers around the world and gaining self-sufficiency in the process.

“Everything I have been doing overseas has been community field work, connecting my degree by applying theory to practice,” said Hollibaugh, who committed to a year of service as a VISTA member. “I now want to help students find their place in the community. I want to help students think outside the box and utilize their major in realistic jobs.”

As the VISTA volunteer at UT, Hollibaugh is working on several projects including designing a service learning database where community agencies can connect with faculty to provide students with more individualized service opportunities. For example, David Reamer’s writing students are paired as tutors with students at Academy Prep Center of Tampa and provide grant writing for the school, at which all of its students attend on full scholarships.

“It’s my goal to get into the community and connect with as many organizations as I can,” said Hollibaugh. She’d like to have the database running by Fall 2012.

Hollibaugh also helps manage UT’s College Access Program which pairs eight UT students with sixth to eighth graders for mentoring and college preparation.

“I’m so glad I’m doing VISTA,” said Hollibaugh. “I love talking with the students and helping them find their passion in life and putting that passion into action.”

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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