VISTA Spotlight, Millikin University

October 15, 2018

My name is Angie Bravo I am the AmeriCorps VISTA at Millikin University. So far my experience as the VISTA has been AMAZING! I am so happy to be doing something important in the Decatur community, but also within Millikin University. With being a 2018 Millikin graduate I hold this university very close to my heart. It is exciting for me to come back and do something I never saw myself doing. As a student I never really understood what the AmeriCorps VISTA did. I knew that we had one every year, but I never found myself searching for the job description. When the days of graduation started to get closer I was thinking long and hard about what my next step would be. When the position was announced to students I wondered again what this position had to offer. I did my research and was amazed by all of the benefits it had. Since I have known that I want to go into the field of high education I could not think of a better opportunity to have firsthand work.

Once I was appointed the position I was very excited to learn more about how I could help my campus and the community around it. As I was getting trained I got even more excited to start the position. I was going to be working with all of Millikin Universities community partners and some of our disadvantaged students within the campus. It is exciting to help bring a whole new class onto campus. Being the point person for service learning around campus, it is my duty to get students involved.

As we are preparing for students to arrive my first initiative was to partner with United Way for their annual Day of Action. This event consisted of planning service projects for over 500 first year students. I was nervous and excited all at the same time to be able to put it all together. Once the day had arrived I was extremely anxious to be able to see it all come to fruition. With the Day of Action under my belt I was able to make MANY community connections! I am excited to be working with different people every day and being the support for students to get off campus and in the community to make an impact.

As the AmeriCorps VISTA at Millikin University I am addressing poverty by building capacity through management of Millikin students and community partners. It is amazing being able to get more students eager to get out in the community to help. With there being a requirement for service within first year students it is important to me that we help them understand the impact of service and helping others so that they are more willing to go out and continue to serve even without that requirement. As I have been working with students to get them involved I am looking at the need in the community and making the best matches I can.

Another aspect that I found super beneficial within being the VISTA is of course getting Millikin University students as involved as possible, but also being the main liaison with our campus partnerships. Our largest partnership that we hold close to our hearts is with our local lab school. Within this partnership I have coordinated a mentoring program and I am continuously programming events to bring the students to campus to utilize our resources and have a great experience with student leaders/volunteers.

With my time as the AmeriCorps VISTA at Milllikin University I have learned so much. It is amazing that I have lived in Decatur, IL and on Millikin’s campus for four years and I am still learning something new every day. Each week I am doing something different and meeting new people and it gets me excited each time. I am on numerous committees that allow me to stay connected with different people in the community. I love when organizations want to have a closer partnership with Millikin University and getting connected with students. I am honored to be able to have this experience and I cannot wait to see what else I have coming up for me throughout this year.