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Former VISTA Members

Rikki Bower

Rikki CS&L VISTA Rikki Bower is resourceful, resilient, and refreshing! He is an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at West Virginia University Center for Service and Learning. His placement concentrates on alleviating the risk of poverty by contributing to the Center for Service and Learning focus of connecting students to service. Rikki understands that it is through service that students gain valuable insight, build community, and form relationships with others.

Rikki enjoys working with students and being part a community that values service! During his free time, Rikki can be found in the kitchen, exploring the world, and taking in the moments! Rikki has a Bachelor of Science in Child Development, a minor in LGBT Studies, and a masters of arts in Social Work. He is really looking forward to his year of service and is most excited about creating something sustainable and useful! He can be reached at rlbower@mail.wvu.edu, all inquires are welcomed!


Marissa Pulice

Marissa Student Success VISTA Marissa Pulice is originally from Fairmont, WV. She completed an undergrad degree at West Virginia Wesleyan and graduated Summa Cum Laude with majors in English, Gender Studies, and Philosophy. After that Marissa moved to Athens, Ohio, and completed a master’s in literary history with a concentration in the presence of disability in 20th century American literature. She then took a position as the VISTA with the student success pod. Her pod’s focus is on making college accessible to students who are low-income or the first in their family to attend, or apply for, higher education opportunities.

Marissa is currently working with the Mountaineer Success Academy, the McNair scholars program, the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council, Energy Express, and Upward Bound to create various service opportunities that merge service with college/career readiness lessons. Marissa can be reached at mpulice1@mail.wvu.edu


Nia Waters

Nia My Brother’s Keeper VISTA Nia Waters is from Baltimore, MD. She is the middle child and the only girl of three children. Her parents both graduated from West Virginia University and she is a recent graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Child Development and Family Studies, Early Childhood Development and Infant/Toddler Education certification. She is currently an AmeriCorps VISTA focusing on the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. This initiative focuses primarily on mentoring young African American and minority males in the community. These efforts are carried out through the Successful MALE Initiative. MALE is an acronym that stands for Men Achieving through Leadership and Engagement. The primary focus of this program is to provide a support system academically, socially, professionally, culturally, and personal in order to encourage their growth and development as well rounded individuals.

Nia’s role as a VISTA is to develop sustainable recruiting measures for African American and minority males on campus and involved in the community. It is also her role to create programs and service opportunities that encourage their continued participation in this program and in the community. Nia can be reached at nia.waters@mail.wvu.edu


Chelsey Franklin

Chelsey Ladies First VISTA Chelsey Franklin is the Ladies First AmeriCorps VISTA serving at the Center for Service and Learning. Chelsey is proud alumni of West Virginia. In her undergrad Chelsey received a bachelor’s degree Psychology, with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Chelsey is very creative, innovative and has a strong passion for art. She tries to incorporate her creativity in all that she does, even when doing service. Service has always been a major aspect of her life. Chelsey believes that service is a lifestyle, and should be done with a great intent to make a difference. Chelsey plans to continue her service and learning as she pursue her masters in Social Work.

Chelsey is working with the Ladies First Pod, which focuses on education, gender issues, and service-learning. One of her goals as a VISTA is to build capacity through collective impact; by working collaboratively with female WVU students, faculty, and community partners that serve women to develop campus resources. She has partnered with Council for Women Concern and American Association Women University (AAUW) here on campus. She is currently working on various projects that cultivate the awareness of women issues. She will bringing the Start Smart Negotiation Workshop initiative to the university to develop awareness on issues surrounding the gender wage gap. Chelsey will continue to establish a partnerships and secure connections with organizations at WVU, as well as in the community that are committed to improving the lives of all women. Chelsey can be reached at cfrankl3@mail.wvu.edu


Erin Greenleaf

Erin STEM VISTA Erin Greenleaf completed her undergraduate degree at WVU in Animal & Nutritional Science. She is currently finishing a Master’s Degree in Animal Physiology. Erin is a volunteer foster and trainer with Hearts of Gold Service dogs. She loves to read, watch movies with her husband, and work on the farm.

The STEM POD aims to recruit students to come to WVU and pursue degrees in any of the STEM fields or in an agriculture-related field. The target audience is low-income, first generation students. Erin is trying to spread the message to these students that there are resources out there for them to utilize to be able to not only attend college but to be successful while they are here. Erin has been working with the WVUteach program, collegiate 4-H, WVU Upward Bound, WVU Animal Science Farm and various student organizations in the Davis College to help spread this message. An additional focus has been working on recruitment, getting more volunteer opportunities, and recognizing the great service already being done by these students. Erin can be reached at ekeller4@mail.wvu.edu


Brian Ricketts

Brian Veterans/Adult Learners VISTA Brian Ricketts is an AmeriCorps VISTA working as a part of the VISTA Collaborative with the West Virginia University Center for Service and Learning. His VISTA placement is focused on increasing awareness of poverty issues and promoting higher education among veterans. Brian received his B.S. in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism from Virginia Commonwealth University and moved to Tucson, Arizona in 2007 to supervise an outdoor program for Miraval Resort and to work as a guide instructing mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking. After two years of guiding, Brian moved back to the east coast to take the position of Coordinator of Adventure Pursuits at Towson University in Towson, MD.

Having met his wife in 2012, Brian has since moved multiple times and worked in both the outdoor and photography fields. In addition to his work as a VISTA, Brian is a member of the Morgantown Bike Board and is working to start his own business in commercial photography. Brian currently resides in Morgantown with his wife Sarah. He can be reached at brian.ricketts@mail.wvu.edu.

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