Emily Blackshire shows enormous commitment, dedication, and compassion as she helps others through community service. She first came to NOC in 2010 as a high school tutor while she was completing her studies at Hilton Head Prep. Emily quickly connected with the children and gained significant insights about people living in a low-income neighborhood. She understood their struggles and challenges in coping with day-to-day living and their desire to move forward to achieve a better quality of life. Instead of immediately going to a university, Emily made a courageous move by taking an assignment in Uganda to work on a sustainable development project, helping women to generate income and employment. Following this important work, Emily took a position in Washington with a social entrepreneurship company, which allowed her to broaden her understanding of issues relating to development. Clearly, Emily, in a short period, has matured and acquired much practical experience.
Early this summer, Emily returned to NOC to apply her new knowledge and experience through NOC’s summer outreach program in the Oaks. She is presently coordinator of NOC’s eight week summer virtual learning program in Hilton Head Island, which has more than 60 students enrolled. Emily works diligently with teachers and volunteers to make this program highly successful. In addition, she has launched several elective programs in arts and science and field visits for small groups of children. She also teaches an ESL class twice a week. To accomplish these tasks, Emily has mobilized support from her friends. She is very popular with children who find her friendly, hardworking, and kind.
In Emily’s own words …
“I was introduced to Neighborhood Outreach Connection midway through my junior year of high school when Dr. Sharma first stood before an assembly to tell us about his methods for empowerment. Instantly enthused at the prospect of working alongside communities to create opportunities from the inside out, I began tutoring once or twice each week at the Oaks; little did I know at the time what a tremendous impact it would have on my life… Instead of attending university immediately after graduating, I spent four months in Uganda working with an economic sustainability project focused on giving women internally displaced from years of civil war a steady income making jewelry and bags. I then returned to the States to work with a social entrepreneurship company called Ashoka in their global headquarters in Washington, DC. Throughout my year away, my passion for development as a community construct and a “hand-up not hand-out” approach was only further solidified, specifically in the fields of healthcare, education, and workforce development (precisely the model of NOC!). I worked throughout the spring to earn my TEFL/TESOL certificate to teach English as a second language and now lead English classes for adults, teach an art and science program, and coordinate the summer Compass Learning Program. I am unbelievably grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such incredible leaders, both within the community and on staff and hope to continue working alongside NOC throughout my time at Clemson over the next few years.”
In August, Emily will resume her education at Clemson, but she intends to keep her connection with NOC. Emily is an outstanding role model for other young people who have an interest in community service.