“AmeriCorps” is a word that just gets me excited. When I meet fellow AmeriCorps alum or current members, I immediately feel a connection. Because AmeriCorps is one of the most unique things I have ever been a part of. As a two time alumni, I know AmeriCorps has changed my life. Straight out of college, I decided to forego the “traditional” route of taking a job that I had to settle on. I wanted to do more, and luckily a friend told me about her experience as an AmeriCorps member in Seattle. Her story was inspiring; the idea of serving to strengthen community through action, education and leadership sounded meaningful and significant. Just a month later, I landed in Sacramento, CA for a term with NCCC Pacific Region (Class of XVII, yea!). During my first term of service, I worked on projects that I would’ve never imagined being a part of, ones focused on reinforcing connections between people and their environments; using chainsaws to cleanup storm aftermaths, tutoring kids in inner city LA, gardening alongside students at a Waldorf school and biodynamic farm, and being a camp counselor to those with disabilities. I met people that would become my best friends, and one that has become my life partner (yes, AmeriLove is real). Though I left my AmeriLife in California as I returned home to Michigan, I continued searching for other opportunities to serve. Soon, I landed in Knoxville, TN and was able to dive into environmental action, focusing on water conservation and protection. AmeriCorps State & National gave me the skills I needed to continue serving my community through local government action, and even led to a county government staff position where I created and supervised a four-person AmeriCorps team, helping other young people feel empowered through service. There is something to be said about a group of people who take the opportunity to explore a new life, likely far away from their old one, all to serve the community. Serving as an AmeriCorps member changes your perspective, providing life-long clarity on the meaning of national service and community connections.