Student Bridges is a student-initiated outreach program that connects UMass Amherst students with local community-based organizations and schools through tutoring-mentoring partnerships, college awareness activities, and policy advocacy. The mission of Student Bridges is to increase college access and success for underrepresented students by building partnerships with local schools and community organizations; offering college awareness, preparation and success activities; and advocating for enhanced institutional and public policies and practices.
This year, as MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA for Student Bridges, I have been able to do a lot of reflection and unpacking of all my recent experiences, especially my educational ones. I have learned the importance of telling my story and the impact I can have by using my voice. As I sit here and reflect upon the decision to become a MACC VISTA, I remember being scared of not succeeding in the role. I guess I still kind of am afraid of not having an impact. But the more involved I get with Student Bridges and our community partners, the more I realize what a difference and impact “the little things” make. The networking, the staff meetings, the conferences, the amazing discussions that happen in the office are all pieces to that bigger puzzle. Those little things matter to me and make so excited to be a part of this movement.
Serving at my alma mater worried me at first because I had just finished my undergrad degree. I was worried about working with students close to my age and that weird transition from being a student to an alumni/staff member. Once I got to campus and started working with the staff, a lot of those worries went away. From the moment of my arrival I felt welcomed and supported in my transition to this new role. More importantly, they remind me and help me see the value of my history with Student Bridges and the work I have been and will be doing this year. I have been fortunate as an undergrad to see Student Bridges grow from its inception to an incredible, progressive agency on campus. I have the longest history with Student Bridges out of all of our staff members. That fact was a little overwhelming but I see it as an opportunity to exchange knowledge with staff and get our alumni more involved again. With this new academic year came new staff members to the SB team. I knew that I had to pass on my story, my experiences and my history to the new staff to carry it on for the ones to come.
I can’t believe how fast time is flying. The fall was a whirlwind; jam packed with tons of events and recruitment opportunities for Student Bridges. Holyoke and Springfield Bound went extremely well. It was a great experience going from planning sessions to the actual events. As the year progresses, I am focusing more on helping to develop our college access tour trainings as well as our college access tour planning process. I am also starting to develop a system or method to track our alumni as well as reach out to them to have them included more in the organization. I guess at the end of the day I really am trying to keep the spirit of Student Bridges alive within our staff and passing on the fire of access & success to the generations after us.
Student Bridges at UMASS Amherst