If you asked me what my plans were for after college graduation a little over a year ago, without hesitation I would have told you that I would be working as a research assistant in a neuropsychology research lab. With this is mind, you may be wondering how I ended up spending the last 8 months as a MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA!
In September of my senior year at Suffolk University, I was given the opportunity to work as a research assistant in a psychology graduate studies research lab. The broad focus of the labs research was on children and adolescents but I was able to assist in research on cyberbulling, sleep disorders, and social exclusion. Although these topics are not directly related to neuropsychology, I was excited to gain experience in psychological research. After assisting with tasks such as researching articles for graduate students and conducting literature reviews for a semester, I gained enough experience to start working more closely with specific research projects. One of the graduate students was beginning her dissertation research on peer relationships and social exclusion related to group involvement in middle school age children. The topic intrigued me as I had been a part of sports teams growing up and have developed some of my strongest friendships through these group involvements. I chose to work with this graduate student on her dissertation and even got to develop my own questionnaire that would be included in her research.
While attending my first meeting with guidance counselors at a local middle school to discuss our research project, I was overcome with an feeling of belonging as I watched the middle school students interact with each other and with the guidance counselors. In the short time I was in the building I was intrigued by their actions and by their conversations. A couple of students came up to me and introduced themselves. Their curiosity and excitement about this unfamiliar face humored me. From that moment on I knew I wanted to work with middle school students. My next step would be deciding to what capacity I would want to be involved with a middle school.
As graduation approached the anxiety of landing a job as soon as possible was quickly, and heavily, falling upon me. My research lab supervisor forwarded me the MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA for Suffolk University and the Eliot K-8 Innovation School position description. Reading through the position description I felt as though it was the perfect opportunity to be exposed to a school environment and learn the ins and outs of the school setting. With the position being centered at Suffolk University, my alma mater, and working with a school in the North End, the community I spent the last four years living in, I was even more excited about the position as I saw it as a way for me to give back to the communities I called “home” for the last four years. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit.
It is hard to believe that 8 months have already flew by. My time as a MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA has been one of the most rewarding and influential experiences I have received in my life. When a service learning student who has completed their required hours of service asks if they can continue volunteering at the Eliot School I realize the value of our work. When an Eliot student asks me what day of the week it is because he knows his mentor is coming in on Wednesday to eat lunch with him, I can’t help but smile and explode with happiness! Helping Suffolk students make meaningful connections with Eliot students, teachers, and faculty, results in reciprocal experiences that both parties learn from and will carry with them in the years to come. Life experiences help shape who we are. They help define our interests and also help illuminate our paths in life. Being a MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA has allowed me to provide many people with these important life experiences which makes my job more rewarding than any salary could ever pay!
Suffolk University in partnership with the Eliot K-8 Innovation School