Where Are They Now: YAC Alumnus

The Youth Advisory Committee mission statement:  To provide the youth with a voice to empower the community through positive impact and growth, one grant at a time.

Emily Pallarito

Name: Emily Pallarito

Year Graduated: 2015

School: Gaylord High School

Attending Michigan State University

 

What was your favorite part about YAC? What was most memorable?

My favorite part about being a YACer was not only making a positive impact in my community, but also being able to see the impact in motion. My most memorable experience was my first year as a YAC member. Spring had arrived, and it was the day we were to determine which grant applicants would receive funding. Little did I know, in my term as a member, this was the year OCCF YAC would have the smallest amount of money to give to the community. Upon review and interviews of applicants, the YAC decided to fund as much as possible, as well as request that the OCCF board of directors fund all other applicants affecting youth. With careful consideration, the board fully funded all other applicant requests, because of our voice.

How did your time as a YAC member affect your perspective on your community?

Coming from such a small community, often times teens have a negative perspective and only see how supportive and giving others are when in times of need. Being a YACer, I was able to see the love and support from the community on a daily basis. I was also able to see how much the adults in the community respected the youth’s voices.

What skills did YAC teach you that you apply to your current work life?

Because of my time in YAC, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the philanthropic/non-profit world. I am currently in my third year as a student at Michigan State University, and have chosen a path that allows me to pursue my dream of working with non-profits. I am currently an intern for CPAN, a non-profit organization that advocates for Michigan’s Auto No-Fault Law. In addition, I have recently taken on an inaugural fellowship with Michigan’s Conservative Energy Forum, also a non-profit organization. On a daily basis I work with constituents, advocating for the organizations different beliefs, as well as conducting research.

What are some important skills you learned from YAC?

The main skill YAC taught me was that I have a voice. No voice is too small or little to be heard, and in today’s world, one must speak up for what they believe in. Advocacy is a skill YAC taught me that I now apply in both my position as a President in MSU Students for Life, as well as my current job. Because of our community involvement, I also learned how to be an effective speaker and communicator.

Did YAC influence your college major choice/career path? If so, how?

I chose to attend Michigan State University because of the particular program I am in. MSU’s College of Social Science’s Interdisciplinary Studies Major allows me to pursue my dream of working with non-profits meanwhile focusing on policy. I am currently an intern for CPAN, a non-profit organization that advocates for Michigan’s Auto No-Fault Law. In addition, I have recently taken on an inaugural fellowship with Michigan’s Conservative Energy Forum, also a non-profit organization. On a daily basis I work with constituents, advocating for the organizations different beliefs, as well as conducting research.

What advice would you give to a new YAC member?

One key piece of advice that I would share with a future YAC member is to not be afraid to share your opinion. However, you also need to be open to listening to what others have to say.

Sam Noss

Name:   Sam Noss

Year Graduated:  2012 (High School), 2016 (College)

School: Gaylord High School, Michigan State University

 

What was your favorite part about YAC? What was most memorable?

My favorite part about YAC is that it gave me the chance to come together with a group of like-minded people who wanted to help change the community for the better. The most memorable part of YAC was when I was able to help organize and attend Extreevaganza – I even came away with my dog, Miles!

 

How did your time as a YAC member affect your perspective on your community?

My time as a YAC member made me realize how large an impact one small, dedicated group of people could have on a community as a whole.

 

What skills did YAC teach you that you apply to your current work life?

YAC gave me organizational skills that I still use to this day in my work life. I am always on top of things and YAC definitely helped with that!

 

What are some important skills you learned from YAC?

I learned plenty of important skills from YAC, it’s hard to pick out just one. I would say that it helped me hone my people skills – working in a group was much easier after being a member of YAC!

 

Did YAC influence your college major choice/career path? If so, how?

I don’t know if I can say that YAC directly influenced my professional career choice, but it did help me grow my communications skills, which is the industry I ended up in.

 

What advice would you give to a new YAC member?

Be open to new experiences and take advantage of all the intelligent, different, and experienced people you have the chance to work with!

 

           Karrie Miner    

 

Name: Karrie Miner

Year Graduated: 2007 high school, 2011 University

School: Gaylord High School, the George Washington University

 

What was your favorite part about YAC? What was most memorable?

I remember sitting around a table at Abbey Hamilton’s house – talking through how we would spend the YAC money- which organizations would receive grant funding. This is my most vivid YAC memory, I really enjoyed the grant selection process. It was nice to know that, as a young person, my opinion mattered when decided how funds would be allocated to different organizations or activities. It was interesting to compare different uses of dollars to see what would be the most effective or impactful for the community. That being said, it was always a hard choice, because there are so many good causes.

 

How did your time as a YAC member affect your perspective on your community?

I think my time in YAC allowed me to get a better perspective on how much time and energy go into planning community events, even of the smallest scale. It also showed me just how much activity there is in the community and how impactful a small gift or a couple of hours of volunteering can be. I think, especially as a high school or junior high student, it is so easy to get caught up in your day to day life at school and forget about the broader community- both the good and the bad. YAC was a reminder that the community is bigger than one person or one organization, it is a unit, and if you show up, you can make a difference.

 

What skills did YAC teach you that you apply to your current work life?

I currently work in Chicago as a Senior Associate at a non-profit called Upwardly Global, which is an organization that helps skilled immigrants and refugees find professional jobs. My current role is fundraising, and although I am not a part of grant writing at this time, I believe my exposure to the grants process, through YAC, really allowed me to fully understand the importance of effective and sustainable fundraising. Before working in fundraising, I also managed volunteer events for the organization. YAC taught me that showing up is the first and biggest step to making a difference and that followed me throughout my time planning volunteer events. When someone takes time out of their busy day to share knowledge or help an immigrant prepare for an interview, it has long-lasting effects, even if it feels like a small act of kindness. The ripple effects that come from that person landing a job that sustains their families and positively affects the overall economy is huge!

 

What are some important skills you learned from YAC?

YAC helped me think critically and to be more empathetic. It allows you to give money to an organization fighting mental health, but then you are keeping money from an organization that trains teachers to be more effective. You have to make tough decisions, but you also learn to weight the importance of different issues in the community.

 

Did YAC influence your college major choice/career path? If so, how?

While I don’t think YAC directly influenced my choice to go to the George Washington University or to study International Affairs, I believe the things I learned at YAC stuck with me throughout my time there and did affect my career path. I have always worked at smaller organizations and I think that is a credit to my time spent in the Gaylord community. I believe that you can make a large impact on a small scale and I like the challenge of a scrappy start-up, building something that can grow into something bigger than you or your life.

 

What advice would you give to a new YAC member?

Try to put yourself in other people’s shoes, through empathy and understanding you can make the world a better place – one small deed at a time. It is easy to get caught up in material things or to focus on big programs, but I think YAC taught me that small steps can have a larger impact. Also, it helps you find good people!

 

Katie Allen

Katie was a member of the first Youth Advisory Committee and shares how YAC has impacted her life.

Background

Year Graduated   2001

Education: Johannesburg-Lewiston

Northern Michigan University:  2005 Hospitality Management

Boston University:  2012 Master’s in Food & Wine Studies

Employer: Hilton International:  8 years; Current Title: Manager, Strategic Sourcing, Food & Beverage

 

What was your favorite part about YAC? What was most memorable?

Getting to know other youth from the various high schools in the county.  I was from the Johannesburg-Lewiston High School  and being involved with YAC let me see the community as a whole not as individual schools/towns.

How did your time as a YAC member affect your perspective on your community?

I was already an active member of the volunteer center – YAC reinforced how important it is to be involved in your community.

What skills did YAC teach you that you apply to your current work life?

To listen to others and their points of view. To think with both your head and your heart.

What are some important skills you learned from YAC?

The biggest skill that I learned was Grant Writing.

Current Volunteering

I’m co-chair for our McLean Community Committee and help to organize Hilton’s Global Week of Service for our corporate office.

What advice would you give to a new YAC member?

Find ways to connect to the causes you are most passionate about because it will be more meaningful and interesting.