New York Campus Compact
VISTA Member Spotlight
Columbia University, Engineering Outreach
Could you tell us more about your VISTA role and service project?
My role as a VISTA is STEM Outreach Specialist at Columbia University- School of Engineering as applied Science. I coordinate the Engineering Speaks program that directly connects Columbia Engineering students and faculty to underrepresented students in Harlem and the Bronx. I also advise 15 SEAS student groups regarding outreach activities, event planning, advertisement, recognition, and more!
Why did you choose to serve with AmeriCorps? What does VISTA mean to you?
I chose to join AmeriCorps because I wanted to dedicate a year to service. I have done community service throughout my undergraduate career and I wanted to delve into it full time during my gap years before graduate school.
What is the most memorable moment from your service year?
The most memorable moment from my service year is hosting a SAT bootcamp for underrepresented high school students from the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics. This two-day intensive prep program featured tutoring sessions, physics and chemistry lectures from Columbia professors, a hands-on 3D printing activity, and a campus scavenger hunt. I had the privilege of planning and executing this program and it turned out very well! The participants were very satisfied with the program and as a result we will be planning another one for April.
If you could only choose one word to describe your service year, what would it be and why?
Humbling. So far, this service year has been a humbling experience. Often during college, I only dealt with science and research and knew how to navigate my tasks and prioritize my time. With this position, I ave had to acquire new soft skills and enhance professionalism to prolong important relationships between outreach another departments. Also, living in New York on the AmeriCorps stipend has really shown me how those who live below the poverty line survive. As a result, I have become an excellent budgeter!