Although raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Austyn was born in Appalachia and is a native of Knott County, KY. As an adult, she decided to return to Kentucky, and has now resided in Perry County, KY for the past six years. She is a mother to Victoria (age 8), Brooklyn (age 4), and Christian (age 3) and resides with her children and fiancé, Chad. She has found true peace and serenity in the mountains, and feels it is the perfect place to raise a family. This is why she has also found purpose in dedicating her time and efforts in serving the communities of Eastern Kentucky, investing in it’s optimistic future.
Through her work as a Math and English tutor at Hazard Community and Technical College in 2013, Austyn could see some of the economic and educational needs in the region that were not being met. She did her best to mentor students not only in education, but also in life. After graduating from HCTC in 2017, Austyn continued to see the ever-growing need of services in Appalachia. Austyn finally decided in July 2017 that she would take a step further in assisting to serve the region’s needs through joining a government-granted volunteer program that targets Kentucky’s in-need promise zones called AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). Through this volunteer program, Austyn has spent hundreds of hours and thousands of grant- funded dollars organizing and completing projects to help raise health, economic, and educational awareness in the region. Placed previously at Frontier Nursing University in Leslie County, KY, Austyn has had a prior opportunity to organize and participate in various outreach services for Appalachian communities, and she hopes to apply these experiences to her new service mission at Hindman Settlement School.
Austyn is now serving in her third term of AmeriCorps VISTA and has sworn an oath to serve this organization and region through her enlisted mission co-created by HSS and AmeriCorps. Excited to serve her former hometown of Hindman through her new placement, Austyn will be working to collect and publish stories of Alumni, students, and other affiliates of Hindman Settlement School, highlighting the impact of educational and economic opportunity programs that have supported the local Appalachian community. She also hopes through showcasing the impact of Hindman Settlement School’s various outreach and educational supports in this region, that additional support can be drawn in for the ever-growing organization.
Austyn is a graduate of Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC), receiving her Associate of Science and Associate of Arts with Honors in 2017. A member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, President of the Student Government Association, and a Math/English tutor at HCTC, Austyn participated in many programs before graduation. Transferring to Morehead State University (MSU) in 2017, Austyn received several scholarships to attend the University, including the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Scholarship, the Tier I Kentucky Transfer Scholarship, the KHEAA Kentucky Teacher Scholarship, and the annual AmeriCorps Segal Educational Award. Austyn is a member of the Teacher Education Program at MSU, and she is on-track to graduate from Morehead State University with a Bachelor of Arts and a certification to teach Math and Social Studies, grades 5-9. Austyn wholeheartedly believes her work at the Hindman Settlement School will help to shape her not only as an educator but also as an advocate for the in-need communities of Eastern Kentucky!