Americorps team

AmeriCorps is a voluntary civil society program supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations, and other donors engaging adults in public service work with a goal of "helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.

 
 Andris (On-Driss) is on this!  That's just a small mnemonic device I like to use when introducing myself to help others pronounce my name. Its origins can be traced back to Latvia where every male's name ends with an "s" for conjugational purposes! My father, Arnis, and two older brothers, Ivars and Aldis, names also function similarly for the same linguistic purpose. The other half of my heritage was given to me by my mother, Maria Jenny, from Lima, Peru. I grew up in California, in the bay area, and as a young boy was terrified of the water. My poor swim instructor struggled with my stubbornness as I refused to submerge my head underwater. Imagine my family's surprise when I received my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology. Now SCUBA certified it was an improbable road that led me to Tucson. After earning my graduate degree in Environmental Engineering I was exploring options to give back. I found Higher Ground through an AmeriCorps opportunity and hopped over state lines to join a cause that truly inspired me. I began as one of three AmeriCorps members placed at Higher Ground in 2015. Now I am honored to work alongside Higher Ground managing our exponentially growing AmeriCorps team who continue to do amazing things for the community and students they serve. While I miss being suspended underwater in the ocean, it only takes one student to yell across the courtyard "Hey, Andris is on this!" before I am reminded that I am exactly where I want to be.    

Andris (On-Driss) is on this!

That's just a small mnemonic device I like to use when introducing myself to help others pronounce my name. Its origins can be traced back to Latvia where every male's name ends with an "s" for conjugational purposes! My father, Arnis, and two older brothers, Ivars and Aldis, names also function similarly for the same linguistic purpose. The other half of my heritage was given to me by my mother, Maria Jenny, from Lima, Peru. I grew up in California, in the bay area, and as a young boy was terrified of the water. My poor swim instructor struggled with my stubbornness as I refused to submerge my head underwater. Imagine my family's surprise when I received my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology. Now SCUBA certified it was an improbable road that led me to Tucson. After earning my graduate degree in Environmental Engineering I was exploring options to give back. I found Higher Ground through an AmeriCorps opportunity and hopped over state lines to join a cause that truly inspired me. I began as one of three AmeriCorps members placed at Higher Ground in 2015. Now I am honored to work alongside Higher Ground managing our exponentially growing AmeriCorps team who continue to do amazing things for the community and students they serve. While I miss being suspended underwater in the ocean, it only takes one student to yell across the courtyard "Hey, Andris is on this!" before I am reminded that I am exactly where I want to be.


 

Andris Rapa

AmeriCorps VISTA Program Manager

 I started off at Higher Ground in the Spring of 2015 as the resident math expert, volunteering through a class I was taking at University of Arizona. As the kids got to know me and I took on the Academic Coordinator AmeriCorps State position, I became known as “The Evil Math Queen" that made all the kids do the one thing they hated most – homework. I guess the kids did not have much say when Higher Ground asked me to stay another year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, who could now follow them into the school day, to make sure their homework actually made it to the program.  After two years serving as an AmeriCorps member and wielding my evil math powers, I was hired on to manage Higher Ground’s expansion into the schools through the Community Schools Initiative. I now work with about 16 AmeriCorps members placed in the schools and at Higher Ground to build up each school as a community resource hub and coach students to improve attendance rates. Even though my focus has shifted and I am always running between school sites, I still manage to make it to the program to dawn my mathematical crown just enough so the kids know their queen has not seceded.  For an undergrad who just wanted to share her love of math with kiddos, Higher Ground has become a place where I can help shift the culture of education in Tucson – all because the kids, the staff, and the mission captured my heart from the very first moment.

I started off at Higher Ground in the Spring of 2015 as the resident math expert, volunteering through a class I was taking at University of Arizona. As the kids got to know me and I took on the Academic Coordinator AmeriCorps State position, I became known as “The Evil Math Queen" that made all the kids do the one thing they hated most – homework. I guess the kids did not have much say when Higher Ground asked me to stay another year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, who could now follow them into the school day, to make sure their homework actually made it to the program.

After two years serving as an AmeriCorps member and wielding my evil math powers, I was hired on to manage Higher Ground’s expansion into the schools through the Community Schools Initiative. I now work with about 16 AmeriCorps members placed in the schools and at Higher Ground to build up each school as a community resource hub and coach students to improve attendance rates. Even though my focus has shifted and I am always running between school sites, I still manage to make it to the program to dawn my mathematical crown just enough so the kids know their queen has not seceded.

For an undergrad who just wanted to share her love of math with kiddos, Higher Ground has become a place where I can help shift the culture of education in Tucson – all because the kids, the staff, and the mission captured my heart from the very first moment.

Rema Hamdan

Community Schools Program Manager

 
 I am Brandon Di Gregorio, the VISTA Leader here at Higher Ground and an overly caffeinated music hobbyist from West Virginia.  After coal preservatives bled into the water in my hometown, I decided to give up on water altogether and come to Tucson.  I joined Higher Ground because I wholeheartedly believe in the principle of love-driven skill building and grit development.

I am Brandon Di Gregorio, the VISTA Leader here at Higher Ground and an overly caffeinated music hobbyist from West Virginia.  After coal preservatives bled into the water in my hometown, I decided to give up on water altogether and come to Tucson.  I joined Higher Ground because I wholeheartedly believe in the principle of love-driven skill building and grit development.

Brandon Di Gregorio - VISTA

AmeriCorps VISTA Leader

 My name is Araceli Tovar, I am an AmeriCorps VISTA and the Mapping and Behavior Coordinator at Higher Ground. I am from the beautiful state of Oregon, but spent my last four years going to college in rainy Seattle. I graduated last spring from Seattle Pacific University with a double major in Political Science and French. I can speak three languages and spent the summer of 2016 studying abroad in the French Riviera. Finally, the last thing you should know about me is my thumbs are different sizes; my left thumb resembles a toe. Here at Higher Ground my work here consists of supporting school coordinators implement Higher Grounds mapping methods in the community schools. The goal of my work is to reduce chronic absenteeism and bring community resources into schools. In the future, I hope to continue to work in community development.

My name is Araceli Tovar, I am an AmeriCorps VISTA and the Mapping and Behavior Coordinator at Higher Ground. I am from the beautiful state of Oregon, but spent my last four years going to college in rainy Seattle. I graduated last spring from Seattle Pacific University with a double major in Political Science and French. I can speak three languages and spent the summer of 2016 studying abroad in the French Riviera. Finally, the last thing you should know about me is my thumbs are different sizes; my left thumb resembles a toe. Here at Higher Ground my work here consists of supporting school coordinators implement Higher Grounds mapping methods in the community schools. The goal of my work is to reduce chronic absenteeism and bring community resources into schools. In the future, I hope to continue to work in community development.

Araceli Tovar - VISTA

Mapping and Behavior Coordinator

 My name is Kenneth Briggs, I am not only the Volunteer Coordinator at Higher Ground but also an Americorp VISTA. Even more than the positions I hold in my professional life I also enjoy things like running an obtuse amount of miles for fun. I enjoy biking, hiking and really anything that has to do with the outdoors. I have done things like college at the University of Arizona, grown up in places like the Native American Reservation and backpacked through Europe. My favorite food is cheese pizza, I am color blind and I hate standing in lines. Thanks for reading.

My name is Kenneth Briggs, I am not only the Volunteer Coordinator at Higher Ground but also an Americorp VISTA. Even more than the positions I hold in my professional life I also enjoy things like running an obtuse amount of miles for fun. I enjoy biking, hiking and really anything that has to do with the outdoors. I have done things like college at the University of Arizona, grown up in places like the Native American Reservation and backpacked through Europe. My favorite food is cheese pizza, I am color blind and I hate standing in lines. Thanks for reading.

Kenneth Briggs - VISTA

Volunteer Coordinator

 I am Alexis and I am an Americorps member that serves as a Child and Family Advocate here at Higher Ground. I specifically work in the District Alternative Education Program (DAEP) helping students who have been suspended for extended amounts of time by teaching them social emotional learning skills that will ultimately help them manage their emotions and make better decisions. My passion for working with children and serving my community led me to my decision to join the Higher Ground team. It is my hope that my work and experiences here not only serve the youth of my community but also serve as stepping stone to my next step in life as a master’s student in mental health counseling. When I am not working at Higher Ground I enjoy spending time with family and friends, singing karaoke, and dancing the night away.

I am Alexis and I am an Americorps member that serves as a Child and Family Advocate here at Higher Ground. I specifically work in the District Alternative Education Program (DAEP) helping students who have been suspended for extended amounts of time by teaching them social emotional learning skills that will ultimately help them manage their emotions and make better decisions. My passion for working with children and serving my community led me to my decision to join the Higher Ground team. It is my hope that my work and experiences here not only serve the youth of my community but also serve as stepping stone to my next step in life as a master’s student in mental health counseling. When I am not working at Higher Ground I enjoy spending time with family and friends, singing karaoke, and dancing the night away.

Alexis Zozaya - 900 HR

Child and Family Advocate - DAEP

 My name is Lexi Lofstedt and I am an AmeriCorps member serving at Higher Ground as a Resource Navigator. Through my position I am able to explore the numerous resources offered here in Tucson and with that assist youth in their journey to positively transform their life and the community in which they reside. Higher Ground is unique because it takes a holistic approach and focuses on leading individuals to a state of empowerment rather than merely providing them with a temporary fix. I think what makes Higher Ground extra special to me is that I am able to work for an organization that matches my personal values and revolves around spreading love, nurturing passion, and building new futures.  In addition to AmeriCorps and Higher Ground I am also a senior at the University of Arizona where I am studying both Law and Psychology. When I am not overthinking my future and law school applications I can be found at either a coffee shop reading a book, watching cute animal videos, hiking, or planning my next road trip.   

My name is Lexi Lofstedt and I am an AmeriCorps member serving at Higher Ground as a Resource Navigator. Through my position I am able to explore the numerous resources offered here in Tucson and with that assist youth in their journey to positively transform their life and the community in which they reside. Higher Ground is unique because it takes a holistic approach and focuses on leading individuals to a state of empowerment rather than merely providing them with a temporary fix. I think what makes Higher Ground extra special to me is that I am able to work for an organization that matches my personal values and revolves around spreading love, nurturing passion, and building new futures.

In addition to AmeriCorps and Higher Ground I am also a senior at the University of Arizona where I am studying both Law and Psychology. When I am not overthinking my future and law school applications I can be found at either a coffee shop reading a book, watching cute animal videos, hiking, or planning my next road trip.

 

Lexi Lofstedt - 900 HR

Community Schools Resource Navigator

 My name is Vicente Ettien Figueroa. I am a dedicated student, a big brother of 7, and the STEAM coordinator here at higher ground. I have been in Tucson most of my life and I have built a strong sense of belonging here. As a kid I had to grow up fast, due to my circumstances, and that really helps me relate to many of the children I work with today. I feel that every child has their own story, and I believe that everyone's story should be told. I learned a lot from these kids and I hope to keep doing so, as well as get a better understanding as each day goes by. I also hope to spread the importance of knowledge and compassion to the children I work with and show them all the opportunities they have to succeed in the future.

My name is Vicente Ettien Figueroa. I am a dedicated student, a big brother of 7, and the STEAM coordinator here at higher ground. I have been in Tucson most of my life and I have built a strong sense of belonging here. As a kid I had to grow up fast, due to my circumstances, and that really helps me relate to many of the children I work with today. I feel that every child has their own story, and I believe that everyone's story should be told. I learned a lot from these kids and I hope to keep doing so, as well as get a better understanding as each day goes by. I also hope to spread the importance of knowledge and compassion to the children I work with and show them all the opportunities they have to succeed in the future.

Vicente Figueroa 900 HR

Robotics, Coding and IT Coordinator

Holly Haid - 900 HR

Child and Family Advocate - DAEP

 When not practicing the art of doing nothing or contemplating the silent beauty of empty space, I am wrangling any number of letters and punctuation marks into something resembling a grant proposal.  Before I wandered into Higher Ground I cut my...no wait, I knocked out my wisdom teeth writing grants to the National Science Foundation and government engineering proposals for wastewater treatment and airport construction.  With those bygone days happily behind me, I now try to raise a few bucks to help kids.

When not practicing the art of doing nothing or contemplating the silent beauty of empty space, I am wrangling any number of letters and punctuation marks into something resembling a grant proposal.

Before I wandered into Higher Ground I cut my...no wait, I knocked out my wisdom teeth writing grants to the National Science Foundation and government engineering proposals for wastewater treatment and airport construction.

With those bygone days happily behind me, I now try to raise a few bucks to help kids.

Stewart Kline - VISTA

Grant Writer

 Yes hello, to whom it may concern, I am Megan Kenyon and I moved to Tucson from Norfolk, Virginia. I graduated from Old Dominion University with a dual degree in English Literature and Secondary Education. I plan to travel and teach others around the world. My life can accurately be described by any T.S Eliot poem and much of my life has been measured by coffee spoons.   

Yes hello, to whom it may concern, I am Megan Kenyon and I moved to Tucson from Norfolk, Virginia. I graduated from Old Dominion University with a dual degree in English Literature and Secondary Education. I plan to travel and teach others around the world. My life can accurately be described by any T.S Eliot poem and much of my life has been measured by coffee spoons.

 

Megan Kenyon - VISTA

Community School Coordinator Apollo Middle School

 I am Erendida Robles, I am 19 years old. I was born in Nogales, Mexico but grew up in Tucson, Arizona. I have been a part of ScholarshipsA-Z since October of 2016. I graduated from Flowing Wells High School and currently going to Pima Community College. I am pursuing a degree in youth services. I joined Americorps in July of 2017 because I wanted to do more for my community through ScholarshipsA-Z. I enjoy designing and sewing, as well as painting and sketching.     

I am Erendida Robles, I am 19 years old. I was born in Nogales, Mexico but grew up in Tucson, Arizona. I have been a part of ScholarshipsA-Z since October of 2016. I graduated from Flowing Wells High School and currently going to Pima Community College. I am pursuing a degree in youth services. I joined Americorps in July of 2017 because I wanted to do more for my community through ScholarshipsA-Z. I enjoy designing and sewing, as well as painting and sketching.  

 

Erendida Robles - VISTA

Scholarships A-Z

 My name is Angelica Heras, I was born in Yuma, Arizona. I graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2017 with a bachelor’s of science in Literacy, Learning, and Leadership. Throughout my college career, I participated in many internships. SPEAC Students Promoting Empowerment and Consent, where I worked as the social media coordinator. As the social  media coordinator, I tabled events, I was in charge of our social media accounts and spreading the word about our organization. I helped host events like Take Back the Night. I was an information farmer at Tucson Village Farm. I taught students from the ages of 3-10 about farming and the circle of life in the farming world. I also volunteer and interned at Higher Ground as a life changer. Now, I am serving with AmeriCorps Vista at Challenger Middle School as a Community School Coordinator.  During my free time, I love to hang out with my fellow AmeriCorps coworkers, walk and go on hikes with my fur child (dog), Riley.  Also, I like to dance and sing my lungs out to music when no one is watching or when they are, I do not care. I also enjoy getting chocolate wasted on Reese’s Cups and eating massive amounts of Hot Cheetos coated with hot nacho cheese; basically, I love to eat food that will shorten my lifespan and put me at risk for diabetes. That is all I feel like sharing for now, so If you need to know more, feel free to email me!

My name is Angelica Heras, I was born in Yuma, Arizona. I graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2017 with a bachelor’s of science in Literacy, Learning, and Leadership. Throughout my college career, I participated in many internships. SPEAC Students Promoting Empowerment and Consent, where I worked as the social media coordinator. As the social  media coordinator, I tabled events, I was in charge of our social media accounts and spreading the word about our organization. I helped host events like Take Back the Night. I was an information farmer at Tucson Village Farm. I taught students from the ages of 3-10 about farming and the circle of life in the farming world. I also volunteer and interned at Higher Ground as a life changer. Now, I am serving with AmeriCorps Vista at Challenger Middle School as a Community School Coordinator.

During my free time, I love to hang out with my fellow AmeriCorps coworkers, walk and go on hikes with my fur child (dog), Riley.  Also, I like to dance and sing my lungs out to music when no one is watching or when they are, I do not care. I also enjoy getting chocolate wasted on Reese’s Cups and eating massive amounts of Hot Cheetos coated with hot nacho cheese; basically, I love to eat food that will shorten my lifespan and put me at risk for diabetes. That is all I feel like sharing for now, so If you need to know more, feel free to email me!

Angelica Heras - VISTA

Community School Coordinator Challenger Middle School

 Born and raised from the southside, laying happily under the Tucson, Arizona sunny desert. Full of generosity and ambition in helping others in my community, more importantly bridging gaps between children and families. Aside from obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Social Work, my great passion is bringing hope and healing to victims of domestic violence who have been through a traumatic and stressful experience.  I found myself working for AmeriCorps and serving in a pretty cool office environment at Higher Ground, where I continue to show compassion and pride for where I came from.

Born and raised from the southside, laying happily under the Tucson, Arizona sunny desert. Full of generosity and ambition in helping others in my community, more importantly bridging gaps between children and families. Aside from obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Social Work, my great passion is bringing hope and healing to victims of domestic violence who have been through a traumatic and stressful experience.

I found myself working for AmeriCorps and serving in a pretty cool office environment at Higher Ground, where I continue to show compassion and pride for where I came from.

Marisela Olivarria - 900 HR

Community School Resource Navigator

 Ready for adventures,  intrigued by others,  simple and sweet,  always curious.  Those are some (exaggerated) qualities of mine that worked well with the letters of my name! I grew up in Maryland, went to college in North Carolina, and somehow ended up across the country. I now am an Americorps member serving at Higher Ground. My official title is Child and Family Advocate, and I do behavioral health work at the after school facility. I also do contracting work outside of this and volunteer once a week with a refugee networking center. In my free time I like to listen to music, read, learn, walk, talk, listen, laugh, and be with people I love. I have also been studying French in the hopes of being fluent some day!

Ready for adventures,

intrigued by others,

simple and sweet,

always curious.

Those are some (exaggerated) qualities of mine that worked well with the letters of my name! I grew up in Maryland, went to college in North Carolina, and somehow ended up across the country. I now am an Americorps member serving at Higher Ground. My official title is Child and Family Advocate, and I do behavioral health work at the after school facility. I also do contracting work outside of this and volunteer once a week with a refugee networking center. In my free time I like to listen to music, read, learn, walk, talk, listen, laugh, and be with people I love. I have also been studying French in the hopes of being fluent some day!

Risa Pine - 900 HR

Child and Family Advocate - DAEP

 Once upon a time in a far away land lived me, Sabrina. I am 20 years old and was born and raised in the magical land of Tucson, Arizona. I grew up in a house full of people....14 to be exact. Everyday was like a day at camp surrounded by my siblings and cousins, playing tackle football inside and street ball until it was pitch black outside. When I was not playing sports I was learning every Backstreet Boys and Selena song and dance move I could.  I first heard about Higher Ground when I was in middle school through Mr. Jansen, the Executive Director of Higher Ground or formally known as my 5th grade teacher. I was an occasional student at Higher Ground who could be found getting help with my homework in the cafeteria at my middle school. It was not until my sophomore year of college that I started volunteering at Higher Ground, thanks to my best friend Isa who recruited me. I was pursuing a Business degree but once I started working with the students everything changed for me. I was immediately surrounded by the most amazing people whose stories inspired and changed me forever. I realized this is what I wanted to be doing. So, almost two years later, here I am, pursuing a Family Studies and Human Development degree through the University of Arizona and working on the RTE team. On this amazing team I get to goal set and work on individual bases with our students to build relationships. I also get to help with the emotional needs of our students. I love that as I get to help our students, I am also growing and learning with them.  Outside of work I enjoy spending most of my time with my family. You can find us all together every Wednesday night for "Taco Wednesday". Family is everything to me and, any time I can get, I love to be around them. So if you could not tell by now, I am a girl from a far away land who loves her family, the backstreet boys, Selena, and I am extremely lucky to have found my passion through Higher Ground.

Once upon a time in a far away land lived me, Sabrina. I am 20 years old and was born and raised in the magical land of Tucson, Arizona. I grew up in a house full of people....14 to be exact. Everyday was like a day at camp surrounded by my siblings and cousins, playing tackle football inside and street ball until it was pitch black outside. When I was not playing sports I was learning every Backstreet Boys and Selena song and dance move I could.

I first heard about Higher Ground when I was in middle school through Mr. Jansen, the Executive Director of Higher Ground or formally known as my 5th grade teacher. I was an occasional student at Higher Ground who could be found getting help with my homework in the cafeteria at my middle school. It was not until my sophomore year of college that I started volunteering at Higher Ground, thanks to my best friend Isa who recruited me. I was pursuing a Business degree but once I started working with the students everything changed for me. I was immediately surrounded by the most amazing people whose stories inspired and changed me forever. I realized this is what I wanted to be doing. So, almost two years later, here I am, pursuing a Family Studies and Human Development degree through the University of Arizona and working on the RTE team. On this amazing team I get to goal set and work on individual bases with our students to build relationships. I also get to help with the emotional needs of our students. I love that as I get to help our students, I am also growing and learning with them.

Outside of work I enjoy spending most of my time with my family. You can find us all together every Wednesday night for "Taco Wednesday". Family is everything to me and, any time I can get, I love to be around them. So if you could not tell by now, I am a girl from a far away land who loves her family, the backstreet boys, Selena, and I am extremely lucky to have found my passion through Higher Ground.

Sabrina Salcido - 900 HR

Child and Family Advocate

 Hello! My name is Cierra Celaya and I am the Court and Alternative Youth VISTA serving here at Higher Ground. As I recently graduated from The University of Arizona with my Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Human Development, I found myself wanting to give back to the Tucson community. I volunteered with Higher Ground as a sophomore and quickly fell in love with their mission and their passion for serving youth. I often find myself pondering what a difference an organization like this would have made in my life during my adolescent years. A spontaneous volunteer trip to Nicaragua sparked a passion for educating and helping others and I am happy to be surrounded by like- minded people all focused on achieving the same goals. I might be one of the pickiest eaters you will ever meet but I actively seek out adventures for an adrenaline rush, my favorite thus far being sandboarding down the Cerro Negro Volcano.

Hello! My name is Cierra Celaya and I am the Court and Alternative Youth VISTA serving here at Higher Ground. As I recently graduated from The University of Arizona with my Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Human Development, I found myself wanting to give back to the Tucson community. I volunteered with Higher Ground as a sophomore and quickly fell in love with their mission and their passion for serving youth. I often find myself pondering what a difference an organization like this would have made in my life during my adolescent years. A spontaneous volunteer trip to Nicaragua sparked a passion for educating and helping others and I am happy to be surrounded by like- minded people all focused on achieving the same goals. I might be one of the pickiest eaters you will ever meet but I actively seek out adventures for an adrenaline rush, my favorite thus far being sandboarding down the Cerro Negro Volcano.

Cierra Celaya - VISTA

Court and Alternative Youth

 I am an introvert with a lot of personality. I always found myself in trouble as a child whether it was for chasing chickens on my grandparents’ farm, accidentally setting my mother’s favorite quilt on fire, or for convincing my peers to orchestrate a school prank. Although I was a rambunctious child with a long list of behavioral infractions, I have always valued the importance of education and the transformative impact it has on our lives. I attended the University of Memphis where I earned a B.A. in English. My goal was to become a high school teacher, but I found myself becoming interested in working with student development on the collegiate level. I enrolled at the University of Kansas where I earned a M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration, which ultimately taught me more about myself and the world than student development. I received the opportunity to relocate to Savannah, Georgia, and I served as an Academic Specialist at Savannah State University. I enjoyed my students, but I was not fulfilled. I wanted to do something that I felt would make a larger impact. I went on to seek a M.A. from New York University in Gender Politics and spent time working with marginalized student communities at the University of South Carolina and then Northwestern University. My passion became even more enhanced, and I began to pursue a Ph.D. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies. I am currently writing my dissertation focused on masculinity and sex education in Mississippi while serving as the AmeriCorps Community Schools Coordinator at C.E. Rose PreK-8th. Now my students are pulling pranks on me.  I also recently relocated to Tucson, AZ from Geneseo, NY; however, I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee. When I am not studying or working, I enjoy taking care of my pet tarantulas and spending time with my three adult/teen nephews. I also love to road trip from time-to-time as the adventure provides me with the best time to reflect on life.  Inspiration: Be brave with your life.

I am an introvert with a lot of personality. I always found myself in trouble as a child whether it was for chasing chickens on my grandparents’ farm, accidentally setting my mother’s favorite quilt on fire, or for convincing my peers to orchestrate a school prank. Although I was a rambunctious child with a long list of behavioral infractions, I have always valued the importance of education and the transformative impact it has on our lives. I attended the University of Memphis where I earned a B.A. in English. My goal was to become a high school teacher, but I found myself becoming interested in working with student development on the collegiate level. I enrolled at the University of Kansas where I earned a M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration, which ultimately taught me more about myself and the world than student development. I received the opportunity to relocate to Savannah, Georgia, and I served as an Academic Specialist at Savannah State University. I enjoyed my students, but I was not fulfilled. I wanted to do something that I felt would make a larger impact. I went on to seek a M.A. from New York University in Gender Politics and spent time working with marginalized student communities at the University of South Carolina and then Northwestern University. My passion became even more enhanced, and I began to pursue a Ph.D. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies. I am currently writing my dissertation focused on masculinity and sex education in Mississippi while serving as the AmeriCorps Community Schools Coordinator at C.E. Rose PreK-8th. Now my students are pulling pranks on me.

I also recently relocated to Tucson, AZ from Geneseo, NY; however, I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee. When I am not studying or working, I enjoy taking care of my pet tarantulas and spending time with my three adult/teen nephews. I also love to road trip from time-to-time as the adventure provides me with the best time to reflect on life.

Inspiration: Be brave with your life.

Devin Moss - VISTA

Community School Coordinator CE Rose K-8

 Hello, before I was an Americorps Community Resource Navigator at Higher Ground I was a baker, bus boy, professional translator, a gardener, demolition crew member, and a medical assistant.  Now I am a first generation college student at the University of Arizona, in hopes of graduating in 2018 with a degree in public health.  I am here now to help you in the future!

Hello, before I was an Americorps Community Resource Navigator at Higher Ground I was a baker, bus boy, professional translator, a gardener, demolition crew member, and a medical assistant.

Now I am a first generation college student at the University of Arizona, in hopes of graduating in 2018 with a degree in public health.

I am here now to help you in the future!

Jaime Hinojos - 900 HR

Community Schools Resource Navigator

 I am the Resource Navigator for Higher Ground. A normal day for me is working in the office and finding resources students can go to. If I am not in the office, you can find me in a couple school sites helping the School Coordinators testing and mapping students. The purpose of testing and mapping kids is to see how they are mentally and allows us to find solutions for them.  I work in Higher Ground to fight poverty and impact kids lives. It does not matter how big the gesture is, any act of kindness can make their day! As a staff, we go over and beyond what we do because we do not think of Higher Ground only as a place kids can go to after school, but we are involved in their academic and personal lives. Fun Fact: I love basketball and I eat wings every Wednesday!

I am the Resource Navigator for Higher Ground. A normal day for me is working in the office and finding resources students can go to. If I am not in the office, you can find me in a couple school sites helping the School Coordinators testing and mapping students. The purpose of testing and mapping kids is to see how they are mentally and allows us to find solutions for them.

I work in Higher Ground to fight poverty and impact kids lives. It does not matter how big the gesture is, any act of kindness can make their day! As a staff, we go over and beyond what we do because we do not think of Higher Ground only as a place kids can go to after school, but we are involved in their academic and personal lives. Fun Fact: I love basketball and I eat wings every Wednesday!

Quinton Tran - 900 HR

Community School Resource Navigator

  My name is Lindsay Kovrig, I am a Americorps State Member and the Mapping and Individual Assessment Specialist at Higher Ground. I am an Arizona native born and raised on the southwest side of Tucson, although you can usually catch me downtown or on artsy 4th avenue. I am currently getting my Gen Eds at Pima Community College striving for a major in the Arts, concentration in dance. Here at Higher Ground, I am a member of the RTE team. I provide reports on conduct, risk tests, trauma assessments, as well as coordinate with staff to create detailed RTE maps of students. These maps will assist us in better helping the student; thus helping us reach individuals, transform families, and elevate communities.    

My name is Lindsay Kovrig, I am a Americorps State Member and the Mapping and Individual Assessment Specialist at Higher Ground. I am an Arizona native born and raised on the southwest side of Tucson, although you can usually catch me downtown or on artsy 4th avenue. I am currently getting my Gen Eds at Pima Community College striving for a major in the Arts, concentration in dance. Here at Higher Ground, I am a member of the RTE team. I provide reports on conduct, risk tests, trauma assessments, as well as coordinate with staff to create detailed RTE maps of students. These maps will assist us in better helping the student; thus helping us reach individuals, transform families, and elevate communities.

 

Lindsay Kovrig - 900 HR

Mapping and Individual Assessment Specialist

 Earthquake survivor, snowboarder, and once a pig owner.  One time I bought a pig off craigslist thinking it was a “mini” pig, it was not; it turned out to be more hog than pig and grew to 160 pounds. I go with the flow and really enjoy new experiences, and I get bored very easily. Growing up in the military I moved around a lot as a kid and I attended over 20 different schools which taught me how to always be the “new kid” at school, in the neighborhood, or on the sports team. That taught me how to make friends with meaningful relationships fast and, as a result, I have friends all over the world. As an adult I love to travel and snowboard.  In 2011 I was in Japan finishing an 11-day trip, it was day 10 and I was in Tokyo having lunch at the Grand Hyatt Hotel near the 6th floor, when a 9.1 magnitude earthquake hit Japan. Now I had experienced 8.0+ magnitude when I was living in California but this was on a whole other level of experience. I was in a foreign country during its largest natural disaster in history, I had nowhere to go and there was no way to leave the country. I knew I would need to survive in Japan for a few days before I would be able to safely return to the United States. I was able to find a Japanese man who allowed me to live with him for 4 days until I was able to safely return home. That experience taught me about the power of love, respect, and community.  I love to snowboard, in fact, I like to claim I have a rule that if it snows more than 10 inches anywhere in Arizona, I have to investigate. I take great pride in my snowboarding skills. I am not very good at karaoke or dance battles, but very good at big mountain snowboarding.  It took me 13 years to graduate college with a Bachelor’s Degree, I finally completed it online with Northern Arizona University, go Lumberjacks! For 12 years I have worked at Pima Community College in student services, financial aid, and scholarships. I learned how to be a professional through my work experiences at Pima. My life revolves around my 16 year old son and 11 year old daughter. We love to snowboard, camp, play sport, hang out at the bookstore, travel, experience new things, and to be outdoors in general.

Earthquake survivor, snowboarder, and once a pig owner.

One time I bought a pig off craigslist thinking it was a “mini” pig, it was not; it turned out to be more hog than pig and grew to 160 pounds. I go with the flow and really enjoy new experiences, and I get bored very easily. Growing up in the military I moved around a lot as a kid and I attended over 20 different schools which taught me how to always be the “new kid” at school, in the neighborhood, or on the sports team. That taught me how to make friends with meaningful relationships fast and, as a result, I have friends all over the world. As an adult I love to travel and snowboard.

In 2011 I was in Japan finishing an 11-day trip, it was day 10 and I was in Tokyo having lunch at the Grand Hyatt Hotel near the 6th floor, when a 9.1 magnitude earthquake hit Japan. Now I had experienced 8.0+ magnitude when I was living in California but this was on a whole other level of experience. I was in a foreign country during its largest natural disaster in history, I had nowhere to go and there was no way to leave the country. I knew I would need to survive in Japan for a few days before I would be able to safely return to the United States. I was able to find a Japanese man who allowed me to live with him for 4 days until I was able to safely return home. That experience taught me about the power of love, respect, and community.

I love to snowboard, in fact, I like to claim I have a rule that if it snows more than 10 inches anywhere in Arizona, I have to investigate. I take great pride in my snowboarding skills. I am not very good at karaoke or dance battles, but very good at big mountain snowboarding.

It took me 13 years to graduate college with a Bachelor’s Degree, I finally completed it online with Northern Arizona University, go Lumberjacks! For 12 years I have worked at Pima Community College in student services, financial aid, and scholarships. I learned how to be a professional through my work experiences at Pima. My life revolves around my 16 year old son and 11 year old daughter. We love to snowboard, camp, play sport, hang out at the bookstore, travel, experience new things, and to be outdoors in general.

Robert Ramirez - 900 HR

Data Collection and Reporting Specialist