The AmeriCorps VISTA program was launched in the summer of 2016 as an opportunity to provide deep support to community partners through civic engagement and service. AmeriCorps VISTA members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities. The Haas Center partners with VISTA to work with community partners to support youth through education and additional curriculum-based programs.
We are pleased to welcome two new VISTA members to Stanford for 2017-18:
As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Shantell is dedicated to helping eradicate poverty across America through empowering the community. Shantell will be serving as a liaison between Stanford University and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, working to strengthen their partnership and forge a deeper and lasting reciprocal relationship.
Shantell was born and raised in New Jersey and is a graduate of Rutgers University-New Brunswick where she studied psychology and public policy. There she was also heavily involved in the student community as well working with Rutgers' surrounding neighborhoods. She is excited to learn more about the Stanford community as well as the youth she will be serving in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Redwood City.
In her free time, Shantell is excited to travel to as many cool places in the Bay Area as possible, continue learning new and fun ways to cook and eat healthy meals, and binge watch all her favorite shows on Netflix!
Co is the AmeriCorps VISTA at East Palo Alto Academy (EPAA). She works on projects in EPAA's College and Career Center, which supports students in finding internships, exploring post-secondary school and career options, and preparing for applications and interviews. As part of this work, she connects Stanford students with community-engaged learning opportunities at EPAA. She strives to take an assets-based approach and support reciprocal relationships between community organizations, Stanford, and EPAA.
Co graduated from Stanford University in 2017, where she studied history and psychology with an interest in race, gender, power, and privilege. During her time as an undergraduate, Co worked with middle school youth from East Palo Alto and Belle Haven to promote educational equity through East Palo Alto Stanford Academy (EPASA).
Born and raised in East San José, Co loves to drive down to visit her family there. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking with her roommates, and taking walks with their dog, Gumbo.
Straight out of college with a number of job possibilities and little direction besides the idea of grad school, I decided that I’d commit a year to AmeriCorps VISTA. My desire to work with youth regarding college access, along with my passion for education and psychology, made the decision for me. Taking a year off my academic aspirations to serve in the community was scary but necessary. I jumped head first into a new role and a new community where I learned about developing partnerships, service learning courses, volunteer recruitment, and a number of things about myself.
One year flew by and learning how to manage my personal needs and identifying my strengths and weaknesses assisted in how I connected to others and my overall success as a VISTA. I consciously decided to be vulnerable in how I communicated and approached problems. A wise grandmother often told me that your attitude determines your altitude. My attempts to apply emotional intelligence to high tension situations usually assisted in strategizing a solution or providing a template for further consideration.
As a VISTA leader, I worked with the Haas Center, Stanford students and faculty, East Palo Alto Academy students and staff, and community partners and nonprofits to encourage volunteer service, strengthen partnerships with local organizations, and increase resources to empower youth at the College and Career Center. VISTA-supported projects include college access programs, academic support resources, and service learning courses.
Navigating two different environments in a new role was challenging, as I wanted to ensure that my presence was helpful but not overwhelming. Before developing any sort of program, system, or opinion, I needed to first get to know the team of which I was a part. Out of all of the skill sets that I practiced, relationship-building was among the most important. Communicating with others in order to achieve a shared goal was fundamental in my work as a VISTA. Learning how to communicate with individuals who had different styles than myself was challenging but beneficial as I navigated meetings and brainstorming sessions, or simply drafted an email to a key stakeholder to further progress.
My favorite part of VISTA was being able to observe the impact of programs on high school youth and college students. Through many challenges, there were joyous moments where I could see the culmination of a student's work come together in a presentation; see an assumption shattered and replaced with a new, more knowledgeable idea; or learn about a dream to be the first in line to graduate high school and then college. My work ethic has always been drawn from uplifting others and growing from overcoming obstacles.
– Kalette Cole, 2016-17 VISTA supporting East Palo Alto Academy
For more information about the VISTA program at the Haas Center, please contact Paitra Houts, Director of Community Engaged Learning in Education.