This AmeriCorps week, we are highlighting the work of current and former AmeriCorps members at Higher Achievement. Emily Doran is in her second year of AmeriCorps at Higher Achievement. She started in 2014 as the Scholar Support Services VISTA, and is now the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader. Here are some of her reflections on her AmeriCorps years:
For me, service has always been a selfish venture. I can honestly say, I have received more than I have given. In college, I was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity, and I worked with both rural and urban communities in the tristate Cincinnati, Ohio region. My drive to do direct service work with community members always comes back to my love of relationship building, and the opportunity to learn more about myself as a person: What challenges me? What could I learn from community members? What innovative solutions could I uncove
Hailing from Northern Virginia, it seemed natural that I would go on to do service in my own backyard – Washington, DC. AmeriCorps VISTA provided me a window to think about service in terms of long-term outcomes and sustainable solutions that would ultimately build capacity for Higher Achievement. Whether it was through exploring the social emotional learning frontier to create institutional knowledge through the creation of trainings and resources, or establishing onboarding systems for new AmeriCorps VISTAs, there continues to be a space for creativity and learning from failure. As the VISTA Leader, I support 8 AmeriCorps VISTAs located in the Washington DC area, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Richmond. Similar to a Human Resources position, my role is to make the jobs of our AmeriCorps members and their supervisors easier. The unique challenges that come with supporting a group of motivated, service oriented adults, subsisting at the poverty level continues to motivate me and keep me on my toes. When I came into this position there were two priorities that I would not compromise on: 1) Align the recruitment and onboarding processes of our AmeriCorps members with that of Higher Achievement employees to ensure member success through their service year 2) Foster a collaborative VISTA cohort so that, regardless of geographic challenges, AmeriCorps members can support and empower one another. AmeriCorps members give so much to Higher Achievement communities, I want to make sure they feel like they are a part of the team and that they have a community in other Higher Achievement AmeriCorps VISTAs.
A big thank you this week to AmeriCorps volunteers across the country and a special shout-out to Higher Achievement’s AmeriCorps members, past and present, who have supported our mission for over 10 years!