If Forrest Gump had taken on AmeriCorps National Service he would find himself saying, “VISTA life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” As VISTA leader with Ohio Campus Compact it’s like I lifted up the candy lid and selected the sweetest chocolate in the box.
The VISTA Leader role is envisioned by the Corporation for National and Community Service as an extra layer of capacity building that coordinates with project supervisors to boost recruitment, retention, and performance at a site. In this position I work behind the scenes to coordinate our Connect2Complete (C2C) campus initiatives; mentoring the VISTA cohort and developing stronger methods of evaluating project progress. The C2C program works, and as Leader, my goal is to find the best ways of showing our programs’ transformative powers.
As Leader I communicate with our VISTAs on a weekly basis, learning about their triumphs for underrepresented students on campus and where they need support. The element of personal connection keeps our cohort under one roof—Dustin Cabin’s that is!—so to speak, despite being located at campuses across the state. Site visits occur in the fall months, and each one has shown that we’ve got an incredible group of change-making VISTAs that bring fresh perspective to age-old college questions that are still plaguing Ohio’s campuses. Our C2C program is about laying the foundation for a sustainable student resource: empowered peer advocates and eye-opening service learning.
In this year as OCC’s VISTA Leader, I’m excited to watch our VISTAs flourish as creators, leaders, and implementers, and through their hard work, the flourishing of the students impacted by C2C. I may not be on the ground with the program, but I know I’m helping to construct a path to get first-generation students to the graduation stage.
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