This Thursday, December 6th, more than 150 AmeriCorps Alums, current
members and Heller faculty/students will come together for a great night of networking and learning about how graduate school with Heller is a great place to accelerate community impact.
At the event, you will have a chance to meet AmeriCorps Alums who are currently attending or recently graduated from a Heller MBA or MPP program.
You can meet two alums right now who leveraged their service year experience and took advantage of the National Service Scholarship Program, at the Heller School.
1.) What made you decide to join AmeriCorps? In which program did you serve? Where?
- Andrea – I always strive to live life based on my values, and I knew my career would need to involve helping others in some way. After completing an internship at City Year, I hoped to get a job leading others in service or recruiting AmeriCorps participant, but I knew I would be most effective in those roles if I had the corps member experience first. After college graduation, I completed my service year at City Year Washington, DC in 2003-2004. I remained at the site for five more years as a program and service staff member.
- Jamie – I joined AmeriCorps partially because I needed an internship my senior year at Flagler College, and partially because I really missed working with students. I began my service as a St Johns County Reads! AmeriCorps volunteer with Communities in Schools in St. Augustine, FL, then immediately joined AmeriCorps VISTA upon my first completed year of service and worked at Title One schools throughout St Johns County.
2.) What did you learn (about yourself) through your service year(s) in AmeriCorps?
- Andrea –My time at City Year shaped me as a person by providing a supportive environment in which I could build and hone new skills. As a corps member, I was selected to guide a team of other members as a director for our spring break camp. Prior to this experience, I never had the confidence to take on a leadership role in any other setting. At City Year, I learned to become more assertive and make attempts even if the possibility of great success was uncertain.
- Jamie – I learned that I can ball on a budget, and that no matter what, you will be provided with exactly what you need at exactly the right moment so long as you stay on top of your game and keep fighting for what’s right.
3.) Why did you decide to go to grad school at the Heller School? Which program did you do?
- Andrea – Although I’ve known about Brandeis for quite a while, I only learned about Heller when it became a “Give a Year” partner with City Year. The scholarship offered through this partnership was compelling. More importantly, the MBA coursework covered many topics I felt would provide a practical and theoretical foundation for the nonprofit work I had already done and hoped to continue in the future. Additionally, the culture at Heller – supportive, collaborative – felt very comfortable and reminiscent of my national service experience.
- Jamie – I decided to go to the Heller School for many reasons. It was a perfect fit for me. However, I was directed towards Heller because of their partnership with AmeriCorps and the scholarship they offer is definitely not a deterrent! I really liked that Heller looked at your accomplishments, merit and intentions rather than just your grades or GRE scores, and that Heller was a tight knit community that supports its students to the fullest.
4.) How did your experience as an AmeriCorps member prepare you for grad school?
- Andrea – My ‘pre-AmeriCorps self’ wouldn’t have made it through (or even applied to!) an MBA program. So much of my City Year experience prepared me to be an engaged graduate student. In some instances, I am still timid now, but prior to AmeriCorps I wasn’t comfortable speaking up and defending my opinions in class. This skill was necessary for success in the MBA program. During my time at Heller, I also volunteered to lead an alternative spring break trip for a group of graduate students. Again, I never would have conceived of this thought prior to AmeriCorps.
- Jamie – Again, I can ball on a budget. Being a poor college student (again) is cake compared to the low-income AmeriCorps years! Joking aside, experience revealed real problems of poverty, effective ways to combat it. My experience as an AmeriCorps member uncovered and instilled a passion within me that I would not have had the opportunity to foster without my years as a VISTA. Those years gave me the knowledge and courage I needed to go back to school and affect poverty on a grander scale.
5.) What are your next steps post-grad school?
- Andrea – I completed the Heller MBA in Nonprofit Management in December 2010, and I began working as a program officer at the Massachusetts Service Alliance in March 2011. In my current role, I use my combined skills from my graduate school and program management experiences to support AmeriCorps programs across the state of Massachusetts.
- Jamie – I am currently working for Homes for Families, a nonprofit family homeless policy advocacy organization. I would not have made this connection without the help of the wonderful Heller faculty, and I will be staying on board with them immediately after graduation. My long term goal is to start a non-profit that provides enriched education with a focus on other cultures and national service and community involvement.