For Pierre Young, AmeriCorps service is a family tradition: His mom was an AmeriCorps VISTA member in St. Paul, and now he’s an AmeriCorps member serving in the Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP).
Pierre is serving at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, where he’s also a student majoring in studio arts with a minor in gaming studies. “I grew up helping my mom out with her computer, printing, making a résumé — I was the IT guy in my house,” he says. “Tech is what I’m really good at.”
After Pierre graduated from Arlington High School, he completed a transitional program that helped set him up for success as an adult living with autism; he worked in college foodservice and earned an associate’s degree in computer graphics and visualization before enrolling at Metro State. When he talked with the CTEP program director at a job fair and learned that Metro State was one of the CTEP service sites, he felt that his service was meant to be.
“I always thought that I’d teach tech or be in education,” he said, “so when I saw you could teach technology in AmeriCorps, I was really interested.”
At Metro State, Pierre teaches students basic computer skills and how to use Microsoft Office software such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Students can drop in (virtually) to get help, and can also log on for hourlong class sessions in the morning or the evening — an adjustment Pierre made when he realized that working students might not be able to attend during the day.
One student, who’s new to the United States, came to Pierre for help building his digital literacy skills and learning Microsoft Office. The two of them developed a rapport, and Pierre is now helping him in his search for a full-time job; they work together on building the student’s résumé and completing online job applications. Pierre says he’s proud that the student is making good progress in learning to navigate technology.
Pierre has a lot going on — he’s involved in student government, Students United, and the InterCorps Council of Minnesota; hosts three podcasts; is working with other CTEP members to plan a summer coding camp for teens; and just started a part-time job as the e-sports coordinator at the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center in Minneapolis. But he says that CTEP is one of the most important things in his busy life.
When he joined AmeriCorps, Pierre was “coming from a dark place and wasn’t happy at my job,” he explains. “Now I feel like I’m actually going toward my goals,” which include working at a major gaming company and eventually building his own gaming brand.
When asked about what he’s learned during his service, Pierre is quick to answer, “don’t be afraid to change and grow.” And, he adds, he’s grateful for the friendships he has developed with other AmeriCorps members serving in CTEP. “CTEP has really changed my life. CTEP forever!”