Claire Mellott ’20 volunteers with AmeriCorps VISTA

In the summer of 2018, Claire Mellott ’20 volunteered abroad as a part of the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program.

Having developed an interest in public health from participating in the Park Scholarships Speaker Series, Mellott was encouraged by Park staff to follow her interests. She sought opportunities related to her passions, which lead her to discover the Rural Works! program and its partnership with NC State. Focused on addressing public health issues in local areas, Rural Works! provided Mellott with the opportunity to learn more about her area of interest while also serving in Asheville, North Carolina.

As a member of the service program, Mellott worked specifically with opioid misuse issues, a creative public health prevention project, and an opioid misuse prevention musical. Throughout her work, she was able to attend meetings for different programs and committees for the Mountain Area Health Education Center.

Her role taught her how communication and language can be used to amplify a message and gain support for a program. Having developed communication and public-speaking skills through different Park Scholarships Leadership Academy sessions, Mellott was tasked with communicating directly with the Asheville community about prevention programming. She also learned how important it is to meet with community members and listen to their needs, an idea that was exemplified in how MAHEC worked with “health care providers, educators, first responders, and other non-profits to affect the health outcomes of their community.”

For Mellott, the AmeriCorps program was an incredible opportunity to connect with a local community and learn what she could do for them. When asked what she would tell others who are considering volunteering with AmeriCorps, Mellott said, “Non-profits always need another helping hand, and the AmeriCorps Vista program helps connect you with those institutions so you can learn and grow while helping to make a difference.”

Back on campus, Mellott is involved in organizations that also align with her passion for public health. Working as a group fitness instructor at NC State Wellness and Recreation and serving as a member of the Society for Health Systems, Mellott is still finding new ways to make an impact on her local community.

written by Elise Romola ’21