AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer helps strengthen college, career prep

The Downtown Boxing Gym is pleased to welcome Samantha Rudelich, our new AmeriCorps VISTA program volunteer. (VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America.) Samantha will be with us through August 2019, focused on expanding college and career resources for our students and more.

Samantha, 23, is a 2017 graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in business management. She served in AmeriCorps’ City Year Detroit program until June of this year.

While working with City Year, she visited the Downtown Boxing Gym and says she was immediately interested in the work we do. She later saw a listing for an AmeriCorps position at the gym and decided to apply and commit to another year of service. We’re so glad she did! Samantha is doing some important work with us, including hatching new ideas and implementing strategies to help prepare our students for bright futures.

“My position focuses on building out volunteer capabilities and college and career readiness,” she said. “Kristin Lusk (Downtown Boxing Gym academic coordinator) and I are working a five-year program that would equip our students with the tools to graduate from our program and high school prepared for success. This includes job training, job shadowing opportunities, lessons on self and career exploration, scholarship and financial aid planning, panel discussions, SAT/ACT prep, and community service opportunities.”

VISTA members serve full-time for 12 months in exchange for a living allowance and, at the end of their tenure, a choice of a $6,095 education award to use for educational expenses or an $1,800 cash stipend. Samantha’s term will run through August 2019.

“I’ve always had a love for Detroit because it reminds me of family and community,” she says. “The Downtown Boxing Gym is special and characterized by hard-working, kind people that have taught me so much about community and resilience. When I graduated from college, I wanted to come back and serve in the city in some kind of education-focused capacity.”

Samantha grew up in Ann Arbor and spent a lot of time in Detroit while growing up. Though she studied business in college, she has a deep passion for revolutionizing education, thanks in part her mother, who has worked in public schools as an accountant, and her sister, who is a teacher.

Her long-term plans include graduate school for joint master’s degrees in law and public policy.

“I want to focus on criminal defense and reforming the system to prevent the school-to-prison pipeline,” she says.

In the meantime, Samantha is enjoying settling in, connecting with our students and being encouraged to try new ideas.

“This is an incredible opportunity to leverage community resources so our students have multiple options to pursue once they graduate from high school,” she says. “I hope to gain a deeper connection to our community which I have great love and appreciation for. I always try my absolute best, because anything less would be a disservice to our students.”

Please join us in welcoming Samantha to the Downtown Boxing Gym family!