Current VISTA Members
Scotty Stone is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the VISTA collaborative at WVU Tech. Scotty graduated from WVU Tech in 2016 with a BA in History and Government. He grew up in the small West Virginia town of Widen, which is located in Clay County. As an advocate for youth in the impoverished small towns of Appalachia, Scotty hopes that his service with AmeriCorps will make a lasting difference for children from small towns, and hopefully increase college enrollment.
As a VISTA Scotty's goal is to build sustainable volunteer opportunities for WVU Tech students that help with poverty alleviation in the communities surrounding the WVU Tech campus. Scotty will also create service-learning opportunities at WVU Tech, as well as raise awareness of iServe and the opportunity to collect and track volunteer hours.
Disaster Relief VISTA Heather Beeseck is a lifelong West Virginian and proud alumna of West Virginia University. While working toward her Bachelor’s degree in Geography, Heather fell in love with the city of Morgantown and its people. She’s excited to once again call Morgantown home during her year of service.
As a geography major, Heather became particularly interested in rural issues and disaster relief. She hopes to bring her love of her home state and her training in rural and regional development together in a way that inspires WVU students to give back to the communities surrounding the university. Heather is inspired by the selflessness and compassion of the WVU student body, and looks forward to working with them to develop models of assistance and outreach that honor the people of West Virginia.
During her time as a VISTA, Heather will combat poverty by building partnerships between Southern West Virginia counties and WVU to make connections between community needs and WVU support. She will also focus on expanding university students’ opportunities to serve and encouraging long-lasting lifestyles of service. After completing her year as a VISTA, she hopes to return to school to pursue a graduate degree in social work.
STEM Service in Agriculture VISTA Ryan Blair has always had an interest in solving the world's problems. Ryan graduated from West Virginia University with a B.S. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics in 2016. Through the STEM in Agriculture POD, Ryan's VISTA assignment is to develop and expand healthy partnerships between the Davis College at West Virginia University and local agriculture based non-profits. He is also tasked in recruiting students into STEM fields in the Agriculture sciences field; specifically, lower-income and underrepresented students. Ryan believes that higher education is the true ticket out of poverty and increasing those opportunities both nationally and globally is extremely important.
Ryan loves most outdoor hobbies including fly fishing, climbing, and hiking. Ryan plans to pursue his masters in Agricultural and Resource Economics after his year of service and eventually pursue a career in environmental project management. He also plans on starting his own environmental based non-profit later down the road. Ryan took up the VISTA opportunity for his gap year in search of making a meaningful impact on the local WV community and he strongly recommends others to do the same. Ryan can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Janet Weeks is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the VISTA Collaborative in the WVU Sociology and Anthropology department. Janet recently graduated from Florida State University with a PhD in Sociology and Demography. Her research focuses broadly on the social determinants of health behaviors and health outcomes. This year of service has given Janet the opportunity to not only join her partner as he completes his education at WVU, but more importantly to utilize the knowledge she has acquired in school to help give back to the community and continue to make strides towards alleviating poverty.
As a VISTA Janet’s goal is to increase the amount of applied service learning and engaged scholarship by faculty and students within the Department of Sociology and Anthropology to address health and economic needs at the local, national, and international levels. She will also focus on increasing partnerships within the University, community, and state; writing grants to support the needs of community partners, faculty, and students; and developing sustainable procedures for continued service learning and engaged scholarship participation within the Department. Janet can be reached at email@example.com.
John-Michael Aurednik is an AmeriCorps VISTA Member serving the people of Fairmont, West Virginia’s Westside neighborhoods (Census Tract 205). Born and raised in the state’s southern coalfields, they are no stranger to the conditions of poverty that so many West Virginians live in. For this reason, they are committed to the people they work with and hope to make a long-lasting impact in their host community.
Having completed their Bachelor of Arts in English at West Virginia University in 2015, John-Michael first learned of social justice through his fine arts education. After taking a year off to work as a barista, they came back to school when they felt they could no longer ignore their internal call to action. It is their hope to give back to their community through their work as a VISTA member, and hopes to inspire other young West Virginians to work to alleviate the conditions of poverty which disproportionately affect the state.
During their year of service, John-Michael will work to alleviate the conditions of poverty by building the capacity of local organizations to better achieve their community development goals.
Dillon Muhly-Alexander, of Bridgeport, West Virginia, is the VISTA for the WVU Honors College, the Pre-Health Professional Development Office, and the ASPIRE Office. A life-long resident of West Virginia, Dillon graduated summa cum laude from WVU in May of 2017 with a degree in International Studies. His hobbies include traveling, reading, wine, hiking the mountains of West Virginia and watching Mountaineer basketball.
As a VISTA, Dillon is developing programming for the Honors College and the inaugural year of the WVU Peace Corps Prep program. In addition, Dillon is identifying medical professionals across West Virginia to increase communication between the university, prospective medical students, and health specialists. Dillon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by his office in the Colson Hall Annex at any time!
M. Shea Lamanna
Billy Boylan is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving the Veteran Affairs Office and Davis College to serve the Veteran Community at WVU. Billy comes to WVU as a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the United States Army. As someone who enjoys the outdoors, exploring, and living life to the fullest, Billyrecognized the unique opportunity to serve in West Virginia. A passionate supporter of the Veteran Community, Billy has dedicated his life to service, both here and abroad. Being a person that felt obligated to take ownership of his own community Billy made the choice to spend this year serving his Community as it applies to education. Billy is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, with years of Mental Health Service within the Veteran Community, as well as other areas of impoverished need within our society such as Youth at risk, Foster Care, and Homelessness.
Billy will be enrolling in the RBA program here at WVU with hopes to gain a Masters in Rehab Counseling. As a member of the Veteran Community, Billy saw first hand the difficulties of transitioning from combat services to civilian life. The amount of pressure to succeed with the instant realization that he will never be the same again made for a rocky transition. As the years went on, Billy developed more of the skills necessary to be a successful person in society. With absolute experience, as well as his education. Billy feels he can be of service to help other Veterans that may find the transition to becoming a civilian again tougher than they imagined. Through the Veterans Affairs and Davis College, Billy hopes to develop a collaborative plan to help WVU and its Veterans in that transition. With the ultimate goal that all Veterans at WVU have the opportunity to successfully complete their degrees and become more comfortable here at home. No Veteran left behind.
Carrie Tanner is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving for the College of Law's Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic. The clinic meets the needs of communities in Southern West Virginia by promoting sustainable development and conservation through legal services and land use planning. As a VISTA, Carrie will be assisting communities with implementation of their land use plans, working on wastewater infrastructure ideas, and connecting low income communities to WVU through the development of high impact initiatives.
Always a passionate defender of the environment, Carrie pursued an Environmental Protection degree at West Virginia University and obtained her BS in 2017. She enjoys backpacking, biking, and running, as well as reading and spending time with her niece and nephew. Carrie applied for the VISTA service year as an opportunity to develop professional skills, learn about legal proceedings related to the environment, and give back to the state that has given so much to her. She hopes to make a positive impact on the communities she will serve and contribute to the end of poverty in West Virginia.