AmeriCorps State Member of the Year
(Robert E. Wone Award for Exemplary Service)
Sarahbeth Vernon, Virginia College Advising Corps, Charlottesville
Sarahbeth Vernon serves the Northern Neck communities of Richmond and Westmoreland counties by advising high school students to develop and enact their post-secondary plans. Although she grew up in Richmond, she had several family members who resided in Northern Neck and was excited about giving back to this community. As a college advisor, Sarabeth provides one-on-one admissions and financial aid advice to any student or family seeking assistance; organizes group workshops that encourage students and families to consider, plan for, and apply to colleges and universities; and orchestrates community events that create excitement around post-secondary opportunities in order to build a college-going culture. In the program’s first year in this region, she is the community’s inaugural college adviser and has exceeded all expectations in launching the program in two unique school environments. A large part of Sarabeth’s success was due in part to her work in leveraging collaborative relationships within the community. This has included developing an eighth grade mentorship program that connects students to local community leaders and prominent figures with similar backgrounds. Sarabeth’s tireless work ethic and tremendous compassion for her students has complemented the existing services in the county to help even more students attend colleges that will serve them well, academically and financially. She plans on continuing to serve students as a special education teacher. Sarabeth is an outstanding example of commitment to community by utilizing skills, passion, and heart to make an impact for generations to come.