Thursday, May 2, 2013

Campus Compact and AmeriCorps VISTA Never Leaves You

Today's post was originally posted on the National Campus Compact VISTA Blog. It comes from a two time Compact VISTA Alumna and current VISTA Program Manager at Pennsylvania Campus Compact.

Campus Compact and AmeriCorps VISTA Never Leaves You
by Amy Carraux Price

I'm humbled and honored to introduce myself: I'm Amy Carraux Price and I'm self-identifying as a "Triple Campus Compact-o." You see, students at Tufts University, where Jumbo the Elephant serves as the campus mascot, may claim special "Triple Jumbo" status when they earn Tufts undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees. While I can't claim a "Jumbo" status, I've had the great privilege of serving or working with three Campus Compacts: Massachusetts Campus Compact, North Carolina Campus Compact, and now Pennsylvania Campus Compact.

After graduating from Elon University with a Bachelors of Science and before completing my Master of Arts in Community and Organizational Leadership at Emory and Henry College, I completed two terms of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I served first with Massachusetts Campus Compact with Tufts University, and then completed my second year with North Carolina Campus Compact at Mars Hill College. A few years and experiences later, I've joined Pennsylvania Campus Compact as the Program Manager where I am responsible for leading our AmeriCorps programs. What can I say? I'm passionate and compelled by this important work and the mission of both Campus Compact and AmeriCorps. (I don't want to press my luck with a fourth Campus Compact experience, as I am confident I fooled each state! Shh, don't tell my great colleagues at PACC!

Two brief thoughts related to all this: my Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA experiences made me who I am today and the Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA programs are defining and equipping the next generation of leaders in our great field. I am humbled to feel it and see it every day.  

For me, two years of service provided professional and personal lifelong transformations. I can't extend enough gratitude to my fellow VISTAs and the Campus Compact staff, host site institutions and community partners. You pushed me, you stretched me, you provided definitions, and you gave support. You created intentional space that allowed us to wrestle with the challenges in our communities and beyond. You let me have a huge part of important and necessary community projects.  You trusted me. You helped me envision my future and set tangible goals to get there. You helped me define and develop my understanding of community, of equality, of partnership, of responsibility.

And being one of those staff members, now? I'm most grateful for the patience, kindness, and support of  my current VISTAs and my colleagues. I know I learn more from them than what I am able to share, but I hope to provide some of what I gained. Additionally, I am humbled and awed by the work of my fellow AmeriCorps VISTA Alums -- MA, NC, PA and beyond. Carly works for Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, DC.  Sarah is a Civic Engagement Coordinator in Georgia. Jay is hosting a 2013-2014 AmeriCorps VISTA in Pennsylvania. There are other AmeriCorps VISTA Alums serving in Campus Compacts across our country. We are the next generation of leaders in this field. We are fighting the great fight, we are collectively raising the presence and value of our field, we are making our communities stronger, healthier and more just. We are doing it well and we are inviting others to join us.

So to wrap it up, Carly (who is working for CNCS, my former VISTA Leader in Boston, and a supportive mentor and dear friend), shared an article in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy. The article, written by Andrew Cohen and titled "You May Leave Boston, but Boston Never Leaves You," eloquently and emotionally captures the sentiments of many, including mine. And I also shamelessly offer, "You may complete a Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA term (or two, or three...), but Campus Compact and AmeriCorps never leaves you." From lessons learned in community to accomplishments shared, from forming friendships with community partners to hard discussions with fellow AmeriCorps VISTAs, from committing to a life of asset-based, mutually-beneificial and reciprocal partnerships to honoring, recognizing, and building social capital, the Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA experience is transformational and enduring.