2016-2017 Vista Leaders
2017-2016 VISTA Bio’s
Mr. Donnie Chestnut is a Charleston native who attended The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He chose to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA at The Citadel to not only give back to the Charleston community, but to also engage his alma mater in service. After this year of service Donnie plans to go into the intelligence field with either the United States Air Force or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Ms. Jenna Moore is originally from Hilliard, OH. She obtained her BS in Child and Family Studies from Ohio University. She has always had a passion for helping and inspiring others and felt like being a VISTA was a great way to be able to achieve that goal. After her year of service, she plans on going back to grad school to get her master’s in Social Work.
Ms. Kayla Johnson was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, in Sociology, from Wofford College. Her life goal is to become a doctor, and she chose to serve to be a role model. There are people all over the world who grew up just like she did but lack the proper guidance and inspiration to change/alter their future. Kayla is a very passionate person and would do anything she could to help people in need.
Ms. Breana Jones is from Walterboro, SC. She graduated from University of South Carolina Aiken with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Communications. She truly believes that she did not choose AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps chose her with help from others along the way. She has a giving heart and loves helping others in any way that she can. She loves to interact with people of different cultures and backgrounds. She has the drive and the ambition to strive to make a difference in the world and the lives of others. After her VISTA term is finished she plans to utilize her skills that she has learned and apply it to her life. She hopes to see a lot of growth and improvement within herself in order to figure out the right path to take whether it be furthering her career or continuing her education.
Ms. Kristina Seibles is a graduate of Francis Marion University. She holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. Kristina is serving to increase civic engagement, community sustainability, and service leadership, while also gaining professional development. After service, she plans to begin a career in Higher Education.
Mr. Daniel Binette was born and raised in Columbia, SC. He obtained his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of South Carolina in 2015. He chose to dedicate a year of service because he wanted to utilize his passion for volunteering in the community to help other students be more connected and more engaged within their community. In addition, he hopes that he can empower students to lead a life of service and ultimately serve as inspiration to others to be more involved in their community. After VISTA, Daniel plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs, whereby he can continue to work with college students to provide services and activities that will help enhance their overall undergraduate experience.
Mr. Charlie Lafer is serving this year as the AmeriCorps VISTA on USC Upstate’s campus. He is originally from Jacksonville, Florida where his parents, sister, and his dog Lily still live. His primary focuses this year involve raising awareness about issues relating to poverty on campus and helping student veterans access the services they need. Charlie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Florida State University in May of this year. He pursued a degree in literature because of its power to build empathy and his belief in the strength of storytelling. This carries directly into his desire to work with college students as they learn about and help end the effects of poverty. He also wants to help increase access and inclusion for all “non-traditional” students, including student veterans. Next year Charlie intends on pursuing a graduate degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education. One day he wants to be the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at a university so that he can have discussions relating to identity and access every day. Charlie is looking forward to the coming year: learning and growing alongside the students on his campus in the pursuit of ending poverty.
Ms. Deborah Frasier is originally from Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina. She received her B.A. in History from Winthrop University in May of 2016. She is dedicating herself to this year of service because of the life-changing impact past volunteers have had on her family. She wants to give back to the community who selflessly gave to her. Deborah wants to continue her volunteer work in Peace Corps after her year of service.
Mr. James Myers, a native of Allendale, South Carolina, earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics education from South Carolina State University in 1976. He earned his maters and PhD degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Georgia respectively. James retired in December of 2015 after 37 years as a professor and information technology administrator in higher education. While participating in a mentoring program sponsored by the Bootstraps Mentoring Program last year, James was urged to apply for service with AmeriCorps VISTA. He is excited about the opportunity to contribute to the Bootstraps Mentoring Foundation’s goal to make attending college a reality for youth in Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five.
Ms. Morgan Esarey is a recent graduate from the University of South Carolina, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration Majoring Business Economics and Human Resources along with minoring in German. Morgan is from Charleston, South Carolina, where she is committed to serving during her VISTA term. She has always been passionate about getting involved with her community to improve the livelihoods of others and felt a call to serve after graduation. When she is finished with her year of service she plans to attend graduate school next fall.
Ms. Teiara Turner is originally from Columbia, SC. She obtained her B.A. in Communications from Coastal Carolina University. Teiara is entering her first year of service and feels that this opportunity will allow her to gain more knowledge and understanding of the needs of South Carolina residents. A year of service was chosen by Teiara because she feels that she has to be the change she wants to see in her state and the world. After VISTA, Teiara plans to finish obtaining her Masters of Social Work, expanding upon her nonprofit Meant to Mend It, and hopefully gain employment with a sustained nonprofit agency.
Ms. Chanel N. Little was born and raised and Glastonbury, CT. She graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a B.S. in Political Science – Middle Eastern Studies. This is her first term as an AmeriCorps VISTA and she will be hosted at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. Chanel believes that serving isn’t a job but a lifestyle because it connects her to greater community outside aside from her own. She desires to further her education with a masters in Non-Profit Management or Higher Education.
Toria Teamer was born and raised in Spartanburg, SC. In May of 2016 she graduated from USC Upstate with a B.A. in Sociology. Toria decided to serve because of the testimonies she heard from other VISTAs and their experiences. She also saw it as an opportunity to grow and get some work experience before attending graduate school. After her year is complete, Toria is considering joining the Peace Corps to gain a broader perspective or continuing her education.
Ms. Carman Fowler is from Camden, SC and earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of South Carolina. During her undergraduate career she served over 300 hours to her community, gaining her Graduation with Leadership Distinction in community service. Her passions for service has shaped not only her career, but her entire life, leading her to dedicate a year to AmeriCorps VISTA. After her year of service, Carman aims to attend graduate school to obtain her Ph.D in Social Psychology with a concentration in morality and moral judgement.
Imani Whitaker is in her first year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA. Her hometown is Irmo, South Carolina. She chose to serve because it seemed like there was no better time. Imani’s B.A was in Theatre -Directing and Business Administration. She received this degree from Newberry College, in South Carolina. After serving she plans to continue her education in film and one day open her own production company.
Thomasina Gary graduated with a B.S in Criminal Justice from Charleston Southern University in Charleston, SC. She is excited to be serving a second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA in her hometown of Greenville, SC. Her passion for serving and making a positive impact in the world lead her to become an after her VISTA year, she hopes to pursue a career in higher education.
Mr. Jabian Cooper hails from Lake City, SC. He has obtained a B.S. in Management from Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC. He has dedicated this next year of his life to service because he feels that it is imperative that everyone knows what it feels like to help and be helped. Service gives him the opportunity to “pay-it-forward” in order to be voice for underrepresented groups of people. He plans to attend graduate school after this full year of service to obtain an MBA.