My Time as an AmeriCorps*VISTA with Campus Compact

August 9, 2016

Those of us serving as AmeriCorps*VISTAs do not really know what we are getting ourselves into when committing to a year of service. I was coming in to build capacity for Campus Compact, but what did that entail? What might the work of a VISTA be like? It surely varies, but here is my story:

Throughout my term, I focused mainly on college access. I transformed a state curriculum, which trains mentors to instill a college positive mindset in K-12 youth, to a national curriculum. My fellow Massachusetts Campus Compact (MACC) VISTAs gave me the opportunity to facilitate both in-person and virtual trainings for college students as well as higher education staff on their campus and community sites.

I also served as a researcher and proof-reader for several projects related to grants, online content, and reports. One special experience was working with Carrie Williams Howe to complete a VISTA alumni report that assessed the long-term effects of service on the volunteers themselves. I was reminded of the strength of the AmeriCorps*VISTA program, seeing that an overwhelming majority of volunteer testimonials were positive in the past decade.

In March, I spent much of my time on event planning. With our two big events, the Summit of College and University Presidents and Chancellors and the 30th Anniversary Conference, I gained experience working on time- sensitive tasks as well as communicating with a variety of different people. I also worked to support the development of Knowledge Hubs building from these events and institutional commitment to develop Civic Action Plans this year.

As a Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA, I gained the experience of being an innovator, organizer, administrator, researcher, guide, networker, event planner, facilitator, evaluator, curator, and much more. Given the multifaceted nature of this position, I identified many of my strengths. I also identified my weaknesses, giving me the opportunity to explore ways to improve.

Perhaps my greatest reflection on my time as a VISTA with Campus Compact is that I see how my work here involves the ability to shift gears a lot, to build off of what others have started, and sometimes to begin building what others will later expand upon. When someone asks me to list my achievements for this term of service, I think about work I’ve witnessed Campus Compact accomplish during the past year and feel proud that I was able to contribute my part to their team.

I want to thank Campus Compact staff, specifically Andrew Seligsohn, Lauren Ko, Michaela Grenier, and especially my supervisor, Maggie Grove, for an invaluable learning experience.

I also want to thank the MACC staff – Karen Chisholm, Sharon Bassett, Barbara Canyes, Tim Krumreig and Kelly Nguyen – as well as the entire MACC VISTA corps for the support, memories, laughter, and strength they’ve given me during this year.

Yours forever in service,

Rania Ezzo

Rania Ezzo was part of the Americorps VISTA program with Massachusetts Campus Compact. A recent graduate of Boston University with majors in psychology and philosophy, she provided a year of service to Campus Compact.

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