“Their willingness to be open and put aside bad experiences and trust me, it’s changed me. I’m more compassionate. I don’t want to let them down,” shares Julie Tran. Julie is a MSC Education and Employment Support Specialist and an AmeriCorps volunteer.

Julie leads GED prep courses and community workshops on financial empowerment. She is an instructor for two of MSC’s open lab GED prep courses and currently works with 58 enrolled students. She also helps provide support for other volunteer teachers and students.

While all of Julie’s students are memorable, one that stands out is a woman in her late thirties with a learning disability. This woman lives in a motel with her boyfriend, but isn’t interested in housing assistance, just learning. She started coming to MSC in October, the same time that Julie started volunteering.

“She really wanted to learn, she just didn’t know how, ” shares Julie. They started with double-digit addition. Julie would send her off with packets of homework, and she would come back with questions on things she didn’t understand and ask for more homework. Now they are on to probability and statistics!

Julie also helps plan activities for MSC’s HEART program, a program for children living at the family shelter that helps children learn additional skills in fun and creative ways. Julie has assisted developing partnerships with other organizations to help bring learning activities to the shelter. This month, they got a visit from the Seattle Aquarium and explored a 10-foot Orca skeleton!


As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Julie receives a small stipend for lodging and food but otherwise donates her time to serve others. She’s volunteered since she was 14 years old.

Julie believes that education should be accessible to all. Originally Julie wanted to focus on youth. Now she works with students age 16 to 68 plus! In the future, Julie sees herself leaning towards getting a Master’s Degree in Education and working on curriculum and infrastructure issues in education to help teachers better engage their students.

“I’m having a great experience,” shares Julie. “I finally enjoy waking up in the morning and going to work. I love working with my students and building relationships with them I didn’t know I could have. I’m watching them overcome barriers like homelessness or mental health issues. They have goals, but no one previously has helped them learn the steps to get there.”