Hello everyone, this is Andy Straub, second-year MNA AmeriCorps VISTA serving at Delta College in University Center, MI. I only have about four months left in my time at Delta and I feel as though I can look back and be proud of what I’ve accomplished.
In the last couple of months I’ve been able to get a volunteer center up and moving at Delta. My former co-VISTA, Shalyn, helped me decorate our pirate volunteer board and the new VISTA, Zekiye, designed a killer spreadsheet to track volunteer hours for our Volunteer Incentive Program. Basically, I’m doing nothing and taking all of the credit! I’ve actually spent a bit of time working on the website and posting opportunities, on-campus programs, and more so people can see it digitally as well.
A couple of weeks ago I was able to revisit my big project from my first VAD, Race to College. I worked alongside Zekiye to plan and coordinate the event and it definitely went a lot smoother the second time around. We had 125 local fifth graders come to Delta for a day where they learned about health and wellness. The kids got to check out our STEM Bus, create their own bike shop, learn about the history of bikes through a scavenger hunt, sit in a Michigan State Police Humvee, learn how to stay healthy during our fitness assessment, and of course, ride bikes on our grass track. Each kid also walked away with a free bike helmet, t-shirt, drawstring bag, and other goodies.
My last big project is a new one and one that will hopefully help me in my future career. Over the last month I’ve been spending two days a week up in the Counseling & Advising offices learning how to be an Academic Advisor. The hope is that I will start to have advising sessions soon where I can assist new and returning students with their academic plans, ensuring that they are on the right path to finishing a degree. Because of my desire to work in higher education, this experience is providing me a more well-rounded perspective of student services.
Overall, the last 20 months have been pretty great. Sure there were some ups and downs but everything I’ve done has prepared me for the future and for that I am grateful.
Hello from the Great Lakes Bay Region! This is Andy Straub, first-year MNA AmeriCorps VISTA serving at Delta College in University Center, MI. I’ve only got about a month and a half left of my first year of service but what a year it’s been! Since February 2015 I have been able to work very closely with some great community partners such as Washington Elementary School in Bay City, Jessie Loomis Elementary School in Saginaw, the Michigan State Police, St. Mary’s Hospital Field Neurosciences Institute, and the Ezekiel Project. I hope to add even more organizations to this list as I plan for a volunteer fair as my final hoorah – my VISTA Year Initiative.
As for the projects on my VAD, I feel very happy about the work I’ve been able to accomplish with them all. In August 2015, I worked with my fellow VISTA Shalyn Stack to put together the Citizen’s Boot Camp. We invited roughly 20 6-8th grade students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to come to our campus and go through a hands on workshop that helped them select an issue, research it, and develop a service project to go with it. In a few weeks we’ll be having those students come back to campus to see their service projects come to life.
In October 2015, I helped coordinate the Race to College event with a Political Science instructor Kim Klein. We invited over 100 fifth grade students from two local schools to come to our campus and engage in interactive stations meant to expose them to college access, self-empowerment, and the importance of living healthy. We had instructors and students from 5 disciplines put together the various stations to teach the kids, but the highlight of the day was the race track. We built a 150m track in the grass, bought 25 bicycles, and were able to give away a free bicycle helmet to every student who participated in the event. Since the event, I’ve been able to present statistics to the Board of Trustees at Delta College, helped Delta students and their fifth grade partners prepare a presentation to local house representative Vanessa Guerra, and I was even on TV (thanks ABC12)!
Perhaps my most rewarding experience though has been a project that is not on my VAD. Due to some staffing issues here at Delta, I was able to take charge of the school’s Alternative Breaks program. This was a program that was very special to me as an undergrad, so to have the opportunity to help a smaller program grow has been truly moving to me. I’ve helped implement student leaders, kept costs down, and even got a proposal approved to create a yearly budget for the program (starting next year :P).
Yes, my first year as an AmeriCorps VISTA member has been exceptional, and I’m proud to say that I’ll be back again next year!
Hello from Delta College in University Center, MI. Since starting my year of service in February, I have quickly been getting involved in several projects around campus.
I’ve found that February isn’t the easiest time to start at a college as just when I was getting the hang of things, school abruptly ended and most of the students disappeared. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that ten students were willing to take time out of their summer vacation to volunteer as assistants during the Delta Summer Camps. For the Delta Summer Camps, our instructors put on week-long sessions for children in the community to teach about everything from origami to rockets and robots.
I co-chair (along with Shalyn Stack, my counterpart) a committee of six dedicated students who are planning a Citizens Boot Camp for thirty 6-8th grade students in August. The Boot Camp will teach students to identify issues in their life and how they might resolve these issues. It will culminate with the students creating their own service projects which they will carry out this Fall.
Looking ahead to the beginning of the school year, I am working on developing a volunteer database and volunteer incentive program to roll out to the students. This will make searching for volunteer opportunities much easier, and create a “family” of volunteers here on campus, as opposed to everyone just going out and doing their own thing. Shalyn and I are working on instituting a volunteer recruitment fair and a day of service.
Things have started out well for me here at Delta and the future looks bright!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!