What made you want to be an AmeriCorps VISTA member with YouthBuild?
During a semester abroad in Spain, I volunteered with an elementary school, Escola Tanit, with an underserved, primarily immigrant population. At Escola Tanit I was able to gain a deeper understanding of communities with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students. I learned how important early childhood successes are in building self-esteem and other necessary attributes for a successful future and I realized that I have a deep fervor for helping those in need. Through my work with the students I found a passion for working with communities and individuals that lack opportunity and this prompted me to apply for an AmeriCorps VISTA position.
What challenges have you faced during your service?
The biggest challenge I have faced during my service is earning the respect of some of the YouthBuild students. Because some are older than I am, this was an initially challenging task. However, I have been able to overcome this challenge by being passionate about their journey and their successes. I have learned that passion and excitement are often infectious and I learned to hold our students to higher expectations. Through my work I have seen that a lot of people in the community have, and perpetuate, low expectations for the young people we serve. When we hold them to higher expectations they rise to the occasion and I am continually amazed at how they push themselves to meet those standards of excellence.
What has been the biggest success of your service?
The biggest success of my service, so far, has been learning how to navigate a work space. VISTA has been immensely helpful in giving me a space (and a whole year!) to learn all the things I need to learn at my first “real” job. Some of those things have been: workplace etiquette, the norms of the office, how to communicate with co-workers and meeting expectations of my supervisor (knowing what is a priority and what is extra). I have also learned the best ways to share and move forward my ideas. Skills have been developed through observing others and not being afraid to ask too many questions
Has VISTA influenced your career and education goals?
My VISTA term has absolutely influenced my future career goals. My service has helped me realize that I am extremely passionate about national service and believe everyone should serve. While I always knew that I wanted to work for a company whose mission aligns with my own, I did not realize that this meant working in the non-profit field with youth. As a YouthBuild VISTA, my feelings of social-connectedness have increased, and in turn, so has my self-esteem and overall psychological well-being. As my confidence in helping others grows, I am able to impact my community in a positive way. Making an impact in the community in which I live is a feeling unlike any other; a feeling that is so powerful that I want to continue the work I am doing.
What advice would you give to future members about VISTA and a year of national service?
Not only does the VISTA program provide you with a setting to create change, it also gives you the freedom to work on projects that interest you personally. The growth you will experience in just one year has the potential to set you up for the rest of your life. The trust that Mile High Youth Corps and YouthBuild VISTA puts in me has given me so much faith in myself that I believe I can truly move mountains. I am passionate about national service and believe everyone should serve because of the opportunity it presents to help others empower themselves and lift up their communities.
Mile High Youth Corps
AmeriCorps VISTA Story of Service