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Sophomore Wida Ammar Fulfills Maryland Service Year at the Mount

Donna Klinger

Mount St. Mary’s Among Inaugural Hosts for Maryland Service Year Option  

When Mount St. Mary’s University sophomore Wida Ammar applied for the inaugural year of the Maryland Service Year Option, she was driven by her desire to help others. In signing up as a host site partner for the program, the Mount sought to provide an opportunity for service-oriented individuals who would enjoy working with students. Fortuitously, the university and Ammar, who is a residential student, matched up. Ammar this month began work as junior career center coordinator where she is assisting with planning and operational activities of the Career Center in support of student success. 

wida-ammar-in-text.jpgOur Career Center is excited to welcome Wida and have her join our efforts to benefit Mount students,” said Career Center Operations Manager Matthew Pouss. “We’re grateful to be a host site partner with this program, which will allow us to serve more students with career coaching and development services.” 

Ammar along with her family moved from Afghanistan to Montgomery County, Maryland, in 2019. Recognizing that most females from her home country have few opportunities, she has taken full advantage of the education and career-oriented experiences she has received over the last four years. “I believe that everyone has a purpose in life from the moment they are born,” she said. “My purpose in life is to help as many people as possible in the world, because if you and I don’t think and care about them, then it’s possible nobody else would. We must start from ourselves by doing community service or other small gestures of kindness. 

A community health worker for over two years, Ammar would like to expand her experiences as much as possible by taking any opportunities to give back to the community and especially to people in needI’m happy to help guide students with their current and future career goals by providing them with new opportunities. There’s something about helping people and bringing a smile to their faces that makes you happy,” she said. “It is satisfying and heartwarming for me to see that I have the ability to bring smiles to people’s faces through my services.” 

As a high school student, Ammar had several internships, including one with Career Catchers, which provides one-on-one career guidance for disadvantaged people. She also worked for a community health organization. The cybersecurity major and music minor learned about the Service Year Option from administrators of the Summer RISE career development program that she participated in during high school. They viewed her as a good fit for the new state program, created through the Serving Every Region Through Vocational Exploration Act. The law, championed by and signed by Governor Wes Moore, also established the Maryland Corps, a service opportunity for people of all ages. 

Through the Service Year Option, the first-in-the-nation public service year program for high school graduates, selected participants earn at least $15 an hour and work at least 30 hours a week. They gain both hard and soft skills through a service placement aligned with their area of interest. In addition, they work with support coaches to develop and refine their post-service plans—whether they include college, career, or continued service. Ammar has already made new friends and connections through the training and networking events for Service Year Option members, provided by the state’s Department of Service and Civic Innovation. 

While she is continuing as a full-time student and working 30 hours a week in the Career Center, Ammar would like to take time to find a way to help the people of Afghanistan. “I’m not doing this just for me and the students I’m helping at the Mount but also for my people,” she said. “I’d like to do something for people in Afghanistan.” 

Following completion of the service year, participants will earn a completion award of $6,000 that they can access as a direct payment or as a deposit into a Maryland 529 Education Account for those pursuing their studies. 

Donna Klinger