AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow Spotlights

Curious about the Brown University AmeriCorps VISTA Fellowship? Get to know two of our current fellows!
by Susie Pentelow, Communications Coordinator
May 16, 2019

Dallas Blowers AY2018-19

VISTA fellow at the Swearer Center, Community Partnership Team

What made you decide that this was the perfect VISTA program match for you?

Unlike other VISTA programs I found, this placement strongly emphasized community, a learning environment, and personal development. At the risk of sounding cliche, I initially thought this was only a marketing ploy, but after entering the space, I realized Swearer’s staff and students embodied these principles and I quickly felt at home.

What’s the most rewarding part of your VISTA Experience?

Since I’ve joined this program, I’ve had the opportunity to be surrounded by people who are equally intelligent, compassionate, and driven. The staff and culture I’ve encountered here are unlike anything I’ve experienced previously and maybe will encounter again.

Did your VISTA experience help define your career plans?

I’m still early in my VISTA term, but I’ve had the opportunity to more deeply explore public health, mental health work, communications work, and community organizing. While I’m still narrowing my options, my experience thus far has helped me better orient my future plans.

What’s next?

I’m likely going to pursue additional work to gain further experience prior to applying for graduate school programs.

Maude Gorman AY2018-19

VISTA fellow at the Swearer Center, Academic Engagement & Student Development Teams

What do you enjoy most about being a VISTA fellow?

Being a VISTA fellow at Brown University has been an opportunity unparalleled to those I’ve had before. It has meant joining a larger community of like-minded individuals and widening my lens of understanding in the process. My favorite part of being a VISTA fellow has been the opportunity to incorporate education with my service. From taking part in online VISTA Campus courses to taking advantage of all that Brown University has to offer, I have grown exponentially in my time here, and know my growth will only continue as I finish my year.

Tell me about your experience moving to Providence?

Coming from the South Shore of Massachusetts, Providence has never been too far from home, but was still a city I didn’t know much about. It wasn’t until my VISTA fellowship at Brown University that I began to learn more about the beauty and complexities of this seemingly small community. So far, I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know Providence, from exploring the history in museums and walking tours, to finding the best pizza spot, I have tried my best to immerse myself in everything Providence has to offer.

What advice would you offer to any applicants considering the VISTA fellowship?

To just go for it! I know it can be scary, and even a bit intimidating to think of, but you will never know what you are capable of if you don’t try. The VISTA Fellowship has been a transformational experience for me, and I would not be here today if I never had the courage to apply. This is a program that has the power to reshape how you see the world, and how you interact with it. Through this fellowship, I’ve had the opportunity to think more critically about what my service means, and to better understand how to make a sustainable impact in the world.

What's next? 

After finishing my VISTA term, I hope to continue pursuing my passion for public service and begin the application process to graduate school. It is my dream to one day work for the UN, fighting for women’s rights.

The Brown University AmeriCorps VISTA Fellowship is a full-time, post-graduate service and fellowship opportunity through the Swearer Center at Brown University. VISTA fellows are matched with a local organization, state agency, or a Swearer Center department to build capacity in organizations fighting poverty. Applications for AY2019-20 VISTA fellows are currently open. To find out more and to apply, visit the Brown University AmeriCorps VISTA Fellowship page on our website.