My journey to the MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA program started when I joined the Bonner Scholars Program at Oberlin College. The Bonner Scholars Program is a 4 year, community service scholarship program that provides low-income students the opportunity and support to be community service leaders on the Oberlin College campus and local community. Over my four years in the Bonner Program, I worked in a middle school art room, supported Londoners recovering from prolonged mental-illness with their desire to return to work, and shared community history through the local historical society by preserving artifacts and leading tours. As an Oberlin native, serving as a leader within my hometown gave me a unique perspective on my service and allowed me to understand my community on a new level.
While I was passionate about the direct service I was doing in my community, my interest turned to the importance of the Bonner Scholars Program and program facilitation. I was elected to a two year leadership position that worked with our program director to facilitate our program and build curriculum.. While serving on the leadership team I was responsible for facilitating program meetings, organizing service trips, building the first year student curriculum, attending national Bonner Foundation conferences, and ensuring that our students had the support they needed to be successful leaders. My experience with the Bonner Program exposed me to the theory, practice, and importance of civic engagement and sparked a strong desire for continuing my work in the field of civic engagement in higher education.
After college, I set my sights on the Boston area, because of its many institutions of higher education and strong place in the civic engagement movement. My attention was brought to MACC after interviewing for a part-time position with the Talloire Network at Tufts University. I was impressed with the MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA program’s history and strength. My position as a MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA is allowing me to work full-time on a college campus with community service programming, which was my goal after graduation. Through my placement at Simmons College, I am able to expand my current skills surrounding community service while broadening my understanding of civic engagement and service-learning. By joining the 2013-2014 MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA corps, I have 24 VISTAs, two VISTA leaders, and an amazing director to support me as I continue to learn and grow in this field.
I have been working in the Scott/Ross Center at Simmons College for about two months. The staff has welcomed me with open arms and taught me so much about the role of civic engagement and service-learning on campus and in the Mission Hill/Jamaica Plain community. I work to support programming and build capacity around our three tutoring and mentoring programs run by student leaders. Our student leaders are incredibly passionate about the service they do with the Boston Public Schools and Boston Centers for Youth & Families. They are driven and creative leaders that continue to inspire my work at Simmons. I am excited to help our programs mature and become more sustainable over the next ten months with my wonderful student leaders and the staff of the Scott/Ross Center.