Q: What was your favorite part about being a member of the Campus Compact of NY & PA?
A: This is a tough one. It is two-fold for me. It gave me the opportunity to be in an environment with people (VISTA’s) where I could be “out” comfortably. It also allowed me to tap into an undiscovered passion for education equity.
Q: How has serving as a VISTA impacted your life/current position?
A: As the first in my family to graduate from college, all I wanted to do was escape the poverty, abuse, and shame I grew up with. Serving as a VISTA was like a step back in time to my childhood. Getting SNAP again, working with 1st gen students, reliving all the things I was ashamed of and tried to hide. My time as a VISTA gave me the opportunity to confront the societal shame that is attributed to being poor by developing a program and creating a space where students could come as they are. It also guides every decision I make professionally by influencing the decisions I make regarding student engagement, admissions. It's a constant reminder to me to create pathways wherever I can.
Q: What would you say are the most important skills you gained during your Year of Service?
A: The most important skill I learned was leadership. Growing up, I had to hide my identity, my voice, and lacked confidence. MY VISTA year helped me develop the confidence to be a leader and To embrace my identity. 5 years later, I just wrapped up my time on the board of the Human Rights Campaign of Greater Philadelphia where I advocated and created space for LGBTQIA+ people like myself socially, economically, and culturally.
Welcome to the CCNYPA*VISTA Blog, written for VISTAs, by VISTAs!