Monday, June 10, 2013

VISTA Profile: Takira Dale

Takira (2nd row, 3rd from right) & students
at Elon University's Hunger Dialogue

Takira Dale was not new to Winston-Salem or Wake Forest University when she started there as a NC Campus Compact VISTA this past August. She graduated in May of 2012 with a BA in Sociology and a minor in American Ethnic Studies and still proudly and enthusiastically identifies as a Demon Deacon. While at Wake she participated in a number of student volunteer organizations. She also got a chance to participate in a service trip to South Africa where she worked in a primary school. While there she encountered poverty and hunger on a scale she had not previously experienced. Her time in South Africa and her volunteer work while at Wake helped motivate her to work towards real change in her community and on her campus and ultimately lead her to NC Campus Compact and national service.

Life as a VISTA at Wake has been very rewarding for Takira though she says she wasn't quite sure what to expect when she started her service. She describes the campus community as cozy and says the culture of service at Wake is embedded in the fibers of the university. She finds the student body and the campus community as a whole to be a wonderful reflection of the school motto, Pro Humanitate (for humanity). Takira has found she's learned a lot about herself both professionally and personally over her year as a VISTA and feels the experience has helped her more clearly see the challenges facing communities all over the country.

This year her focus as a NC Campus Compact VISTA has been Healthy Futures and Education. She's worked with Campus Kitchen and El Buen Pastor. Through her work Wake has developed a stronger relationship with its surrounding community. Wake Forest community partners have received an increase in the amount of food donated to serve their clients and have benefited from better trained and supported student volunteers. Takira is particularly proud of the N.E.R.D. (Network of Educational Resources and Development) program she created. The program trains and supports students to be effective, informed, and culturally competent volunteers. She's also been involved in campus events like Turkeypalooza, an event hosted by Wake Forest Campus Kitchen. During the event faculty, staff, and students work together to prepare holiday dishes at the Campus Kitchen facilities. Volunteers then deliver the prepared food to organizations all over Winston-Salem.

Takira describes her experience this year as a Wake Forest VISTA as "amazing!" Because her time at Wake Forest was so positive she decided to continue as a VISTA for an additional year and take a step outside of her comfort zone at Wake Forest and apply to another NC Campus Compact VISTA host site. Takira talks about her decision-making process, "I thought Duke would be a perfect fit for me to gain more experience at a site focusing on healthy futures and because of it's location in Durham. Like most campuses, students rarely venture outside of their collegiate bubble. After helping to immerse students at Wake into the Winston-Salem community, I thought that it would be great to do the same at Duke. I am excited to learn more about North Carolina and Durham."

Takira hails from Henderson, NC, a small town of about 15,000 people on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. She shares her home with Kerr Lake and The Peanut Roaster (makers of delicious peanut flavors such as Ginger Wasabi, Ranch Bacon, and Carolina Barbecue), and the location for one of the first Wal-mart Super Centers within the three surrounding counties. She says growing up on a dirt-road in a place like Henderson was instrumental in shaping her passion for social justice issues and helping others. In her free time she loves to cook and try new recipes. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and listening to live music.