Last month, VISTAs represented our Literacy Leadership program in Los Angeles at a CNCS national VISTA conference and locally in St Paul at the Overcoming Racism conference. Both training events provided VISTAs a variety of workshops, lectures and conversations to build skills, network and work on racial equity.
In Minnesota, we are lucky to have passionate, engaged elected officials who partner with us to protect and strengthen AmeriCorps VISTA programs like Summer Reads and Literacy Leadership. Special thanks to Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Minnesota Senator John Marty, and Amy Johnson Korba from US Senator Tina Smith’s office for visiting our VISTA programs in action at Open Door Learning Center-Arlington Hills in July 2019.
We spoke with Deborah Cushman, Associate Director of the literacy council, about tips for life after VISTA. Here's what she has to say:
VISTA service doesn’t tend to require much explanation when you’re communicating with the inside crowd. Plenty of nonprofits and public sector organizations are well-versed in national service. But here are some things to consider when engaging in a job search with audiences who might not know much about VISTA.
On printed materials (resume, cover letters, etc.):
What was the highlight of your VISTA service with the Minnesota Literacy Council?
The ultimate highlight of my service was when I became a member of the Council for Black Male Success at the age of 19. I was a part of the council that was allocated 3 million dollars for 3 years to help support African American males ages 11-32 who reside in St. Paul.
Laura Linder Scholer served with the Minnesota Literacy Council in 2011-2012 at ThreeSixty Journalism and as the VISTA Leader in 2012-2013. Laura now works as the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Coordinator for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. We had the opportunity to ask Laura about her VISTA experience and why the Alum Circle is important to her. Read more below!
Meet Marina. Marina Mossaad is passionate about equity, volunteerism and systems change. She was born in Egypt and immigrated to the US when she was 5 years old, and after having a transformative VISTA service experience this past year, she is now serving a second year with Open Door Learning Center-Northeast, a program of Minnesota Literacy Council. She is working on strategies to increase adult learner enrollment and retention, diversify the volunteer base and for learners to become volunteers, interns and employees.
Hyperbole is real, people, and though I’m a millennial, I don’t throw it around carelessly or for extra love on the Gram. When I was 24 years old, I was drifting along in a job that meant nothing to me beyond paying off student loans. Though I was fortunate to have employment, I knew that I needed to be putting my full-time energy into serving my community. VISTA gave me that chance, and I’ve never looked back.