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December 6, 2021
By Sophia Lorusso (she/her), Junior English Major.
Pictured above: Peyton McGovern
Peyton McGovern is a dedicated nonprofit worker who now holds a position with AmeriCorps. Peyton completed the majority of her BA in English at SOU; however, because of the pandemic she moved back to Portland and finished her English degree through Portland State University. While working on her BA at Southern Oregon University, she also obtained a Certificate in Nonprofit Management.
During her undergrad time at SOU, Peyton studied abroad in South Africa interning with The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town. This is a refugee and migrant organization that focuses on integrating newcomers into South African society. At this nonprofit, she interned with the Women’s Platform that allowed her to bear witness to testimonies from women across the African continent.
“Sometimes the stories are the only things they carry.”
— Peyton McGovern
Peyton was given the opportunity to craft a narrative of a Rwandan migrant, Donatha, with whom she had become close. In November 2020 Peyton submitted Donatha’s story to The Immigrant Story. Since January 2021, she has written regularly for The Immigrant Story. “I am so honored to be able to share the stories that people carry with them across the world and throughout life,” she says. “Sometimes the stories are the only things they carry.” Peyton can use her voice and tell others’ stories by incorporating her skills as an English major into her work. Her favorite piece that she has written is Two Homes, One Life of Music, it was the first piece she wrote for them.
After graduating from Portland State in 2021, Peyton began her journey with AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is a nonprofit organization that helps communities around the nation reach needs of education, environment, security and more. Peyton shares her passion for nonprofits:
“A few years back, I identified nonprofits as the most sustainable, effective way to ensure good work and good progress for communities: community-based solutions to community-based issues. I want to support these efforts. As a nonprofit management student and professional, I know that volunteer labor is critical to the survival of this type of organization. If I am to expect others to volunteer for my organizations in the future, I need to be willing and excited to serve now.”
Pictured Above: Peyton at Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO.
In her current position with AmeriCorps, Peyton serves as a Beyond School Success Coach with Mission: Saint Louis. Mission: Saint Louis is a nonprofit in St. Louis, Missouri that makes an effort to alleviate poverty through their three programs: Beyond School, Beyond Jobs, and Beyond Charity. Peyton works with the Beyond School program, which provides expanded learning opportunities for students as well as community-service opportunities and academic, social and emotional support to the children of the community. Prior to 2021, St. Louis only had two Beyond School sites. This year, Peyton and her supervisor headed the expansion of these sites throughout schools in St. Louis, more specifically Kairos Academies. The expansion gave Peyton a lot of work to do: “We basically built it from the ground up, having to coordinate with the school, recruit students, recruit volunteers, cultivate community partnerships, find community partners to teach enrichment classes, and the tedious administrative work that is required when having to appease grant makers and State requirements.” Thanks to the efforts of Peyton and her supervisor, there are now five Beyond School sites throughout the city to serve even more students.
Pictured Above: Peyton working closely with a student.
Peyton has been involved with AmeriCorps for four months now. She has found that her favorite parts are also the toughest: “the intense social, emotional, and physical health and safety interactions I have with individual students. Since I work with at-risk youth, they come to me with concerns that I don’t always know how to navigate (pregnancy, trauma, abuse and neglect, food insecurity).” This position with AmeriCorps has opened a lot of doors for Peyton, inspiring her to pursue social work. After finishing her work with AmeriCorps, she plans to serve in the Peace Corps and then pursue her master’s degree in social work and/or international relations. Her ultimate goal is to work for the The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Amnesty International, or another NGO committed to human mobility on an international scale.
If you’re interested in working for a nonprofit, Peyton advises, “I would suggest looking into AmeriCorps or another government-sponsored program simply because they can offer you school-loan deferment, living stipends, and can help pay for relocation which is a good way to see a new part of the country or world. Serving can be expensive because you forgo a traditional salary or wage, so make sure you are willing to take that oath of poverty.”
If you want to get involved with nonprofit organizations and need advice about your resume or where to start, contact our Career Preparation Coordinator Max Brooks (email@example.com) for more information.
SOU offers many Direct Exchanges and Affiliated Programs if you’re looking to study away.
If you’re interested in sharing your story with the English Program blog, or if you know someone whose story we should feature, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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