Meet the Guide: Ellyn Couillard

EllynName: Ellyn Couillard
Profession: Director of Academic Support at Paine College in Augusta, GA
University: University of Georgia (BA), St. Cloud State University (MA)
Major: B.A in sociology minor in history and a M.A in college counseling and student development
Service Type: AmeriCorps
Service Dates: October 2006 – May 2008
Service Location: AmeriCorps Multicultural Communities in Action, St. Paul, MN 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead.


I’d like to be able to tell you exactly when and where I first saw or read this quote and that it immediately changed the course of my life, but I am unable to do so. It held little meaning to me when I first read or heard it. The quote was a mere seed. It had taken root and began to sprout prior to my entrance into AmeriCorps, but it was during my AmeriCorps journey that the little sapling grew into a tree that has only continued to grow in its magnificence following that experience. My first day was orientation. I was sitting around tables with a group of other people who were predominantly other recent college graduates who had notions of changing the world, one person, one client or one student at a time. They were going to be my colleagues, and I could not have been more ecstatic about that fact. We were at different sites all over the twin cities during the week, but every Friday we came together as a team. Over the course of the years we swapped stories, encouraged each other, cried on each others’ shoulders, and celebrated together. This was just a piece of my incredible experience with AmeriCorps. My work at my site was equally wonderful.


I had been tutoring and working with students since I was 15. However, the opportunity to assist in the pilot of a college preparatory program in a new state which is focused on working with high school students to attempt to sincerely prepare them for the college level by requiring note taking, providing tutoring and other activities, was thrilling. I did not know it at the time, but the experience at my site served as a catalyst that started the wheels churning to choreograph the moves that have made up my professional career thus far and continue to play a significant role. The work was challenging and stressful, but it was equally engaging and rewarding. Some of the teachers and the administrators became some of my greatest mentors with whom I have ever had the privilege to work. They too were an important component to my experience. However, it is without question the students with whom I worked who made the greatest impact on me. I still talk to several of them and have continued my relationships with them. In fact, I am proud to state that one of them started his own AmeriCorps journey this year.


These days, I serve as the director of student services for the College of Pharmacy at the University of South Florida. My position consists of providing a myriad of services to the pharmacy students at the University of South Florida. I continue my work as a thoughtful and committed citizen changing the world by educating and training the next generation to do the same in their own rights and in their own ways.