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Released July 15, 2003

SOUTHERN MISS AMERICORPS MEMBERS
TO CELEBRATE AT STATEWIDE GRADUATION CEREMONY

HATTIESBURG - The Mississippi Center for Community and Civic Engagement, located at The University of Southern Mississippi, will be graduating 46 of its Campus Link AmeriCorps members during a statewide AmeriCorps graduation ceremony at the Clarion Hotel in Jackson July 18 at 1:30 p.m.

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that engage participants each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. This year more than 1,300 individuals are serving in Mississippi communities as AmeriCorps members.

The mission of the Campus Link AmeriCorps program is to improve lives by promoting partnerships between campuses and communities and to engage students and other citizens in service that addresses important social concerns. Students from various colleges and universities throughout the state serve as Campus Link AmeriCorps members, mentoring middle school students at school sites and after-school programs.

Angelia Hawkins from The University of Southern Mississippi Campus Link AmeriCorps Team said of her experiences in the program, "Mentoring helped me to uncover my strengths. Once they were revealed, I shared them."

This graduating class of Campus Link AmeriCorps members have mentored more than 500 middle school children at school sites and after-school programs, completed 127 community service projects across the state, generated more than 2,000 volunteers who have logged more than 7,000 volunteer hours, and more than 300 parent volunteers who have assisted in programs/projects related to their children.

One of the projects included a Freedom Summer project AmeriCorps members at Southern Miss organized, where students from the Hattiesburg area toured the former Eureka School on Mobile Street, listened to different Freedom Summer participants and engaged in other learning activities about the civil rights movement.

Also, AmeriCorps members at East Central Community College organized a Spread Some Amore project where kids created Valentine's Day cards for local nursing home residents and spent time delivering these cards and spending time with the residents. AmeriCorps members at Mississippi State University hosted "Bulldog Benefit: A Saturday of Service," where volunteers painted local middle schools and homes of the elderly and picked up trash throughout Oktibbeha County.

Glenda Huggins from the Mississippi Delta Community College Campus Link AmeriCorps team said "Campus Link has inspired me and encouraged me to do good and positive things that I might not have done in life if it had not been for my involvement with the CampusLink program."

Created in 1993, AmeriCorps is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service has awarded a number of AmeriCorps grants to the Mississippi Center for Community and Civic Engagement, including the Campus Link AmeriCorps program.

AmeriCorps is open to U.S. citizens, nationals, and lawful permanent residents age 17 or older. Members serve full- or part-time during a 10- to 12-month period. Full-time members receive an education award of $4,725 to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back student loans. They also receive health insurance, training, and student loan deferments. About half of the members also receive a modest annual living allowance of about $9,600, along with health insurance.

"It has been a great lesson of trust for me and for the students," said Michael Strawberry from Alcorn State University's Campus Link AmeriCorps team. "I say that because I learned from them how to better trust my fellow man and to watch them trust me into showing them options for their futures."

Members who serve part-time receive a partial education award. If you would like to volunteer as an AmeriCorps member, visit the national AmeriCorps site at www.americorps.org, call the Campus Link office at (601) 266-5205, or visit the Web site at www.ccce.usm.edu.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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