Mount Made: Alumna in Alaska
The Cold Never Bothered Carly Anyway
It’s a good thing Carly Jenkinson ’16 isn’t afraid of brown bears.
Because for the last four years she’s been living, working, and volunteering up in Juneau, Alaska—giving her plenty of opportunities to become acquainted with those grizzly beasts.
As a student at the Mount, Carly studied psychology with a minor in sociology. Growing up in different parts of the country—from California to Montana—Carly’s developed a deep love for travel and an inkling for adventure. She’s also always been one to lend a helping hand to others and service to those on the margins has become one of her biggest passions. That’s why the road to Alaska was simple, in a way: she saw a need and was determined to fill it.
In 2017, after learning about an opportunity to work with the American Red Cross of Alaska in response to those who lost their homes to fires, Carly applied and was accepted to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest (JVCNW). Through the JVCNW in partnership with Americorps, Carly jumped into a full-time volunteer position as a Preparedness and Casework Specialist.
Her year of volunteering in Juneau was nothing short of remarkable. She held multiple roles among her community members as a fire preparedness educator for both children and adults, a disaster relief caseworker, and the home fire campaign lead for the entirely of southeast Alaska—no easy feat. Without the ease of access to the same resources available to those in the contiguous states, fire damage and eventual repairs to homes in Alaska can be catastrophic and prolonged.
“I’m able to work in roles here that would require a master’s degree in the lower 48,” said Carly. “Alaska is providing me with extensive opportunities to engage in experiential learning. Nonetheless, I do hope to pursue a master’s in clinical social work soon!”
Carly’s time spent volunteering with the American Red Cross was not just work—it became her passion. Having the opportunity to meet so many native families and hear their stories immersed Carly in the roots of Alaskan culture, a place in need of educators, programs, and aid. Juneau became her home and she wasn’t quite ready to leave after her time with the JVCNW wrapped up. So she didn’t.
Currently, Carly holds a new position as a Behavioral Health Technician in the emergency department for psychiatric emergency services at a small hospital in Juneau, where she engages patients who may be experiencing mental health trauma in one-to-one crisis intervention.
Prior to her current role, Carly’s worked in a handful of other positions in Alaska, including some in disaster relief, child protective services, and behavioral health. But before venturing up north, Carly got her start working as an Assistant Director for Admission for her beloved alma mater, Mount Saint Vincent.
Returning to the Mount as an employee almost immediately after commencement just felt right for Carly. Not only was she able to help young adults gain access to the quality and affordable education they deserved, it was a way for her to give back to the place that helped her get her start.
“I didn’t have to learn how to market the Mount to prospective students because I’d lived it, and I believed so strongly in the mission and vision of the College,” expressed Carly.
And reflecting back to when she was a student at the Mount, going to school in New York City gave Carly the opportunity to engage in endless volunteer and internship positions, including one with Montefiore Medical Center. There, she worked with a doctor to facilitate a study on preventative health in same-sex male relationships and the barriers to accessing medical care in relation to HIV/AIDS. The Sisters of Charity have long been on the frontlines in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and many of their stories served as inspiration for her research.
Mount Saint Vincent’s commitment to human dignity kindled Carly’s interest in social work, as well as her view of the globe as one common humanity—not bound by race, gender, or physical borders.
“I believe that the Mount provided me with a diverse experience which helped prepare and encourage me to work with populations from various cultural backgrounds and identities,” said Carly. “My studies at the College further sparked my curiosity about the world and human behavior, and my passion to support those who are experiencing crisis.”
Although Carly recognized and responded to the needs of the local community in the greater New York area, she also felt called to serve those who were finding themselves marginalized and in distress around the globe. Carly’s current journey in Alaska wasn’t her first leap of faith—in 2014 she found herself traveling abroad in southeast Asia, studying and serving the population in need there.
Through IPSL, formerly the International Partnership for Service Learning, Carly traveled to both Cambodia and Thailand where she studied in collaboration with both Pannasastra University of Cambodia and Chiang Mai University in Thailand. And, as part of her study abroad experience, she also immersed herself in volunteer positions with two NGOs: one with a goal of educating migrants from Burma/Myanmar in order to access education in Thailand, and the other geared toward building a resource program to combat human trafficking.
Her advice for any student—at the Mount or beyond—looking to study abroad: “Do it.”
“Studying and serving abroad were some of the most important experiences I had while I was a student at the Mount,” reflected Carly. “It guided me toward my passion for social work and sparked my curiosity for the world and different cultures.”
And her favorite experience while across the globe? Engaging in a course on Meditative Buddhism. Her assignments for that class incorporated trips around Cambodia and Thailand while engaging in both meditation practices and retreats.
“Some of the grounding techniques I learned while studying in southeast Asia I still practice myself, as well as with my clients.”
But none of these life-changing experiences would have been possible without the Mount—especially the dedicated and enthusiastic members of the faculty and staff who served as Carly’s mentors throughout her time in New York.
“I had several incredible professors and advisors at the Mount who challenged me in a way that catalyzed my growing ambition to study mental health, as well as affirmed my strengths when it comes to human connection,” remarked Carly.
Yet, though she finds herself physically quite far from the Mount’s Riverdale campus nowadays, she’s kept in touch with several friends, professors, and mentors who continue to encourage her to make leaps and bounds in her life’s journey.
“Mount Saint Vincent fosters a culture and environment that encourages people to engage outside their comfort zones and reevaluate their interests as young men and women,” said Carly.
Living in Alaska has given Carly countless new opportunities. She typically works three or four 12-hour shifts a week and she spends her days off hiking in the Tongass National Forest (only ten minutes from her home!), playing recreational sports (most recently ice hockey), kayaking, foraging for berries, and fishing. And while the temperate rainforest of Juneau is far from the hustle and bustle and skyscrapers of New York City, she knows she’ll always remain connected to the rolling hills of Riverdale.
Without her Mount experience, Carly would never have performed as a member of the CMSV Players, served alongside the Office of Mission and Ministry, or lead the Women’s Volleyball team as captain. And she certainly would never have found her new home in Alaska—following a call to help those in need, catching fish and cooking them for dinner that same night, and befriending the bears.
Are you Mount Made? Do you know other alums carrying out the mission of the College? Let us know—we’d love to share how the Mount helped launch your career. Contact us to be featured!
About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.