Participant Story: Ivy Keen


“The most valuable part has been interacting with people who are different from me, thus expanding my view of the world.” – Ivy Keen


Originally from Bellaire, Texas, Ivy Keen attended Hope College, where she studied Psychology and Business Management. At Hope, she served as the treasurer of the Psychology Club and secretary of the Asian Prospective Association, and was involved with the International Relations Club. She also worked as a tutor and writing associate, a capacity in which she assisted students with the writing process and other work for classes. She also traveled to Port-au-Prince in Haiti on a service trip, and studied abroad in Sydney, Australia at Macquarie University. Ivy has served a great deal with churches in Holland, Michigan, assisting in trips and events. She has also long studied instrumental music and plays the flute, piccolo, and oboe. She is serving at PittServes.

Joel Norman: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Ivy Keen: I enjoy working with students and seeing them take on leadership roles. I’ve also enjoyed developing training programs and gaining valuable skills in planning and coordination.Lastly, I’ve really enjoyed being in a college setting. It allows me to see how much goes on behind the scenes to provide students with good college experiences.

Joel: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Ivy: In the morning I go through my email, communicating with my supervisor, the student leaders I manage, and our elementary school partners. In the afternoon I visit our partner schools with the tutor teams assigned to that day. On Friday afternoons, I lead America Reads team leader meetings. The seven team leaders and I reflect on how the week’s tutoring went and look ahead at the schedule for the coming weeks. Throughout the week, I also communicate with our Big Brothers, Big Sisters team regarding activities and food orders for their Saturday sessions.

Joel: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Ivy: The most valuable part has been interacting with people who are different from me, thus expanding my worldview. It has been valuable finding commonalities as well, and I have had many great conversations with PULSERs that have challenged me to think more deeply about certain issues

Joel: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Ivy: Living in community has made me a better cook and communicator. Not only does living in community foster a feeling of joint responsibility, but it also creates a shared experience that will be remembered for many years to come.

Joel: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Ivy: I’m surprised by how hilly it is. I’ve never been in a city that was built on such steep terrain. I’ve also been surprised by the unique qualities of each neighborhood, and how each is distinct from the others.

Story by PULSE Participant Ivy Keen.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation: