• Brown University AmeriCorps VISTA Fellows

Hometown: Oroville, California

Education: B.S. Chemistry, Specialization in Computing, University of California, Los Angeles

Biography: Bao is an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Rhode Island Office of Innovation where she helps spearhead the digital equity and computer science initiatives. She works to build and strengthen partnerships to connect all of Rhode Island to the Internet. In addition, she supports to transform libraries to better meet the needs of the community and encourages schools to offer computer science so that Rhode Island is well-equipped for the technology-advanced future. She recently served at Kenilworth Science and Technology School in Baton Rouge, LA through City Year. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry with a Specialization in Computing from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Why I Serve: I serve because America has given a lot to me; I came over more than twenty years ago from a refugee camp in Thailand. I care a lot about people and the way the world is changing. To serve is very humbling and very human. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to help families like my own. I serve because I am very naive in the optimistic thought that helping others makes the world turn. I serve because I'm still trying to find myself; in my culture, there is a soul calling ritual and I serve to collect the little essences of my soul that is in the people that I meet.

Why Brown University AmeriCorps VISTA Fellowship? Last year, I served at a Baton Rouge school through City Year. Towards the end of my service year, I realized that although I liked direct service, I wanted to try and work behind the scenes but in a space that accepts mistakes as learning experiences. I also wanted to challenge myself to do something I'm uncomfortable with so that I could grow in the process. VISTA seemed to be a good fit. It would give me more of a leadership role because I would be able to input my own ideas and be taken seriously but I would still have a site supervisor to help me along the way. In researching various VISTA positions but when I saw the Swearer Center VISTA program, I thought how awesome it would be to be part of a university, the greater community, and a cohort of like-minded individuals. I felt that all this support would make my VISTA year less isolating because this work is hard and it takes a certain caliber of individuals to make it to the end.