’14 AmeriCorps VISTA Program

After graduating from Vassar, I began a service term with AmeriCorps VISTA, and I plan to pursue my Masters in Public Health. As a VISTA member, I coordinate the work of a program in Baltimore that seeks to address issues of physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health disparities through the development of “whole person” health ministries in local faith communities. The core of this work involves connecting faith communities with relevant health resources, educating and equipping leaders in faith communities to assist in the development of these health ministries, and building networks between faith communities, community-based organizations, health departments, health care providers, and other community health stakeholders to increase their capacity to address health needs.

My work as an STS major not only influenced my postgraduate interests, but it also continues to influence how I think about my work every day. I can honestly say that I do not make any decision in my day-to-day work that is not influenced by what I learned as an STS major. Every aspect of my what I do draws upon the concepts I learned in my STS courses, particularly the ideas that you must understand the community in which you work before attempting to implement programs and that it must be community members who plan and lead initiatives in public health if they are to be successful. STS taught me the importance of approaching every problem from multiple angles, understanding the needs and goals of all stakeholders, and considering capacity building as a central tenet of developing sustainable programs that can effectively address health needs. Taking interdisciplinary courses that overlapped with students from a variety of majors allows me to better understand the role of history, sociology, biology, and culture in public health, which I am proud to say I have been able to share with my co-workers.

I firmly believe I will never lose the critical thinking skills I learned as an STS major and know that I will use what I learned from professors and fellow students as I continue my work in the public health field.