AmeriCorps Helped Pave Path For My Career!
Today’s guest post comes from Marchelli Hill, an AmeriCorps VISTA alum, and current Community Involvement Coordinator for the city of Houston. Hill grew up in South Florida and attended Florida International University, where she studied Public Policy, Political Science and Spanish. She now lives in Houston where she currently serves as president of the Houston Alum Chapter and promotes AmeriCorps programs throughout the community.
I spent my year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Community Services and Employment Training (CSET), in California. During that year, I developed a curriculum and facilitated teacher workshops for CSET’s Junior Leadership Academy. The academy served about 240 youth, ages 10 to 18 years. The curriculum taught core competencies in communication skills, conflict resolution, consensus building, group facilitation, public speaking, strategic planning, group dynamics, character development, and community organizing.
I loved my experience as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and my favorite part was watching the positive progression of the youth I worked with. And it also helped prepare me for the career I’ve chosen today. My AmeriCorps experience helped me develop a particular set of skills that I use on a daily basis and were instrumental in helping me obtain my current position with the city of Houston.
As the Community Involvement Coordinator with the City of Houston, I continue to work with youth through research and program development, specifically through a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funded initiative called Striving To Reduce Violence Everywhere (STRYVE), a youth violence prevention program. The purpose of STRYVE is to develop a comprehensive youth violence prevention plan at a neighborhood level, using strategies that are based on the best available evidence. The project has been very effective at engaging large nonprofits and building capacity for long-term sustainability in youth and community development in Houston.
AmeriCorps gave me the opportunity to develop and cultivate my skill on both a personal and professional level. I was living in California on $800 a month, which wasn’t much at the time, but I knew it was worth it long-term. Not only did I grow professionally, I grew as a person. I know I made an impact. Without a doubt, AmeriCorps VISTA helped pave my current career path, and because of that experience, I have been afforded opportunities that I may not have otherwise experienced.
I think youth should be exposed to what AmeriCorps does and leverage it as tool to have a voice in the community. AmeriCorps programs provide great opportunities to give back. Participation in National Service programs can help break down barriers, especially for many youth of color who desire to access higher education and advanced professional training. The leadership and professional development opportunities made possible through AmeriCorps is opening doors for those who are looking to access higher education and career exploration, while at the same time providing the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives.
As AmeriCorps Alum, I have taken on the charge to encourage more people to participate in national service programs and I am committed to utilizing my platform to tell our stories.