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Public Ally Spotlight: Sam Niravong

March 23, 2017
By Brandon Johnson, Public Ally currently serving his 10-month AmeriCorps apprenticeship with Catalyst Miami


Samantha "Sam" Niravong (pictured on the left) is a 2016-2017 AmeriCorps Public Ally who was recommended to the program by a fellow cohort member Ashley Cover (pictured on the right). As the only girl in the house with two brothers, she gravitated to the kitchen with her mom. Cooking for her family was such a norm that she naturally developed a passion for nutrition. Her initial expectations from the program was to build and expand her leadership skills. She never imagined she would have the opportunity to incorporate her personal passions and career ambitions into her role.

Through the Public Allies matching process, Sam was placed at Common Threads, a nonprofit that promotes healthy eating and cooking in low-income communities in an effort to detour childhood obesity. This could not have been a better turnout for Sam who is majoring in Dietetics and Nutrition at Florida International University. Her service at Common Threads serves as a simulation of what to expect when she enters her field. Sam was quoted as saying "I have a passion for social justice and I believe that nutrition plays a part in that." Her partnership with Common Threads gave her the opportunity to do just that as she engages and develops delicate communities through food.

Is is important to note that this service was more than getting your feet wet for Sam. Within her role as a Project Coordinator, she is charged with leading individual partnerships and projects for Common Threads' various programs. Some of her responsibilities consist of managing and recruiting volunteers, coordinating events, and collaborating with different organizations that may benefit from nutrition education. For example, she partnered with Ashley Cover and the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation to expose the community to healthy alternatives and techniques to eating and preparing food. All of which require leadership skills that Sam had to channel at her placement.

Partnering with Common Threads as an AmeriCorps Public Ally enabled Sam to put her future into perspective. She states, "I like Public Allies belief that everyone is able to become a leader. I was tired of working in the service industry and I was looking for ways to impact the community. " Before coming into the program she was interested in a clinical nutrition track. However, through the programs exposures she's realized that community nutrition is more of her calling because she likes to think of the people she serves as individuals rather than routine patients or clients. Sam will continue her capacity building role at Common Threads through June where she will then focus on graduating from FIU and entering the community nutrition field with an apprenticeship under her belt.


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