Happy spring! Alexa Girouard here again, serving in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Davenport University and Grand Rapids Public Schools. Summer is quickly approaching and my year of service has almost come and gone. This year has helped me grow in so many ways, both personally and professionally. Serving in Student Life at Davenport University and assisting students with college access in GRPS has really ignited a passion in me for working with students and working in higher education.
I have learned so much about what happens behind the scenes in education, and lengths people go to help their students and give them opportunities. I’ve gained skills in event planning, programming, networking, and how we can always be reaching out and connecting in our communities. The personal growth I’ve experienced and the knowledge I’ve gained about myself is something I couldn’t have gotten out of any other opportunity. I am grateful for the ups and the downs while in this position, as the downs usually taught me the most and became learning experiences that better me in the long run. I have been trying to teach myself to celebrate my failures just as I celebrate my successes, as all those experiences help us grow.
Speaking of successes, the week before last was one of my biggest successes so far this year. For my VISTA Year Initiative, I decided to do a week-long event at Davenport, called Spread the Love Week. I wanted to focus on the students knowing how to love themselves, how to love others, and how to love their community. Some highlights of the week were our Spread the Love Board, in which we had students write someone’s name or a small message on a heart about why they love or appreciate that person, and we pin it on the board. We also had students nominate staff and faculty for recognition to show appreciation. We facilitated a Diversity Walk to show students that their differences are important and make them stronger as a community. I had Demarra Gardner come to Davenport and speak about Compassion for Self and Others for self-care and empathy for others. We wrapped up the week with an event called "Into the Streets Day of Service", which gave students the opportunity to show love for their community and how to be an active member of the Grand Rapids community. I loved planning all the educational programming this year at Davenport, and being able to plan my own week long program was such a wonderful opportunity and a great learning experience. I have discovered some strengths I didn’t realize I had and some things in myself that I would like to develop, and I could not be more ecstatic for the future.
For future plans, I think this position has assisted me in finding my path, how I want my career to look, and what I want to accomplish. After this VISTA year, I have accepted a position with MCAN as a College Advisor at Belding High School in Belding, Michigan. I am so excited to continue work with students in college attainment and student success. I have also decided I am going to apply for graduate school this fall for Student Affairs in Higher Education, and I could not be more thrilled! I am excited to see what the last few months of my service year will bring and what the future has in store!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!