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Corey Benjamin (pictured far right) is the firstborn child of an immigrant father from Haiti, and an immigrant mother from Liberia who in the early 1980s fled to the United States after a violent government coup in her home country. Corey says that growing up he recognized the deep sacrifices and struggles his parents overcame to give him the opportunity to become the first in his family to attend college.

“Whenever I think I’m having it tough,” says Corey, a 2016 graduate of Public Allies AmeriCorps program in Washington, D.C., “I think back to the journey of my parents.”

Today, Corey is making his parents proud. He’s starting his second year of medical school at the University of Virginia, and is on track to become the first doctor in his family. Beyond his parents, Corey credits his Public Allies national service experience with helping to illuminate his path and showing him what’s possible in his life and work.

“My service experience made me a better leader,” says Corey. “It helped me figure out what I need to do.”

Corey says his Public Allies service experience—where he spent four days a week working at America’s Promise Alliance—really gave him a window into people’s lives and community impacts on their health.

“As a doctor, I’m going to advocate more for social services and things outside of the hospital that may affect patients’ health,” he says, adding: “It’s one thing to want to do good, but it’s another thing to do good.”

Learn more about Corey by watching this short video produced by Service Year:

Public Allies