Hello again, my name is Shelby Smith and I am a second-year AmeriCorps VISTA. I graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelors in Psychology in 2014. I completed my first year as a VISTA in 2016, working for the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency in Traverse City, MI. I was able to learn more about the AmeriCorps program and how it is a great way to network within a community. I chose to continue my mission of service for others by accepting another AmeriCorps VISTA position at Ferris State University in Grand Rapids. So far, I have had a great experience working for FSU and being an AmeriCorps member again! This school year, Ferris State University partnered with Project North Star through the Kent County Intermediate School District to bring financial literacy programming to local high schools. My main focus for the year was to facilitate a program called ‘Get Real’ within several local high schools. The program focuses on helping all students learn basic skills in financial planning, goal setting, decision making, and career planning. It is an interactive game that gives students a dose of reality. Students learn about their chosen career path, how much money they’ll likely make and how that will impact their lifestyle. We were able to successfully host seven Get Real! events this school year with over 1,000 student participants. We more than doubled the amount of events we did last year and had great results. We were able to help provide real life understanding to students about what it takes to be a financially responsible adult in today’s world.
I am sad to see my second year as a VISTA come to an end but I am very grateful for all the knowledge I have gained. I also enjoyed being in Grand Rapids and getting to know the area. My goals for the year were to aide my community in whatever capacity I can as well as advance my career goals through networking and personal connections. I feel like I have met these goals with the support of FSU, community partners, and MNA. I am proud to have served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for a second year and I will take this experience with me as I grow in my career and life.