Hello, My name is Jernard Collins and I am a first year VISTA serving with Lawrence Tech University and Jewish Vocational Services (JVS). My first year as an AmeriCorps VISTA has been promising. Expanding my network, building my public speaking skills, and working on my craft while serving my community is all I could ask for (except maybe an extra $100 with my check, but that’s for another blog). This VISTA year has challenged me to face my fears and push through my self doubt while remaining professional and keeping my VAD in mind to help enlighten my community into financial awareness.
The events that I have held, and helped with, have been very beneficial for both the students on campus as well as myself. Engaging with the students on campus is a difficult but rewarding task. One of my first projects was assisting with the Career Services department with their Fall Career Fair. Through this opportunity I was able to connect with employers as well as students, and I was excited to help students connect to different career opportunities. I was also able to host a financial aid table which has really informed the campus about the abundance of money that is awarded every year in scholarships ($46 BILLION). On Average $2.9 billion is left UNCLAIMED. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table. Some students miss out on these opportunities by simply not filling out their FAFSA, so for the months of February, March and April, I will be hosting Financial Aid Awareness tables to help students connect to these scholarships that are missed out on.
Along with the Financial Aid Awareness tables, I will also be hosting Financial Literacy workshops that help students with budgeting, learning more about banking, etc. For my first workshop, which will be held in February, I will have Erin Winters who is the spokesperson for Michigan First Credit Union's Young and Free Michigan program. I’m very excited about this upcoming event! JVS has taught me a lot on the financial literacy side, from mutual funds to foreclosure prevention. I help with data entry and making sure information in our systems is updated for clients that utilize JVS services. This experience has been beneficial to me because I was able to learn of the different services JVS has to offer while also learning about the community we serve.
Overall my VISTA experience has been tremendous. I have learned and grown a lot in these past six months personally and professionally. This is what makes the VISTA experience worthwhile. I was most happy about participating in the MLK Walk on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the City of Southfield. I had such a wonderful time!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!