Meet our VISTAs!


Friends,

Since many of us struggle to stay composed and positive during these hard times, I thought I would take this moment to share four rays of hope brightening our Milwaukee Succeeds mission.

We have four wonderful AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members bringing their passion to improve educational outcomes for every child in every school, cradle to career.

These AmeriCorps VISTA members serve as a catalyst for change, living and working alongside community members to support the collective impact of Milwaukee Succeeds, our community-wide initiative that unites hundreds of individuals and organizations around a common purpose.

There is so much hope in these answers below! Take it away VISTA members.

See you soon,


Danae


LAQUAN MCMAHAN


WHY AM I EXCITED TO BE WORKING WITH MILWAUKEE SUCCEEDS?
I sought out the AmeriCorps VISTA program with three reasons/goals in mind:

  1. Given the poverty-ridden demographics of the community and having spent 4+ years studying, serving and understanding relations, I desired to make meaningful impact where it mattered the most.
  2. I wanted to utilize my skills in their entirety, acquire new ones, and mold my perspective to match the experience.
  3. I desperately needed to find work but didn’t want to be stuck in a role just for a paycheck. I’m excited to be working with Milwaukee Succeeds because the organization meets all these needs and more.

WHY AM I PROUD TO BE A VISTA?
The first few weeks of training and on-boarding, I took off running. Soaking in as much as possible in order to understand how you can be useful besides how I was told. I knew a job description is only the starting point and the goal of being employed is to add value (no matter how small the position). Since impacting poverty was the goal, I knew I needed to simplify my approach and truly grasp how to build capacity. Having previous experiences volunteering with children in after-school programs, teaching refugees the fundamentals of English and providing direct service to individuals affected by poverty, those experiences never really left me, because at the end of the day, I knew my role was a patch to a deeper problem. The lesson I’m learning is to seek to liberate myself, peers and community, by first understanding the variety of perceptions.

I’m proud to be a VISTA because the program is continuing to teach me, to find the motivation and inspiration in the small successes. That there is an unyielding strength in discovering common ground in order to tackle a large issue. VISTA has connected me to tons of individuals across the nation, moving the needle on bigger issues, in their own special way. And at the end of the day, this step has to happen in order to reach the ultimate common goal.

GREATEST BIT OF ADVICE A PARENT OR MENTOR HAS GIVEN ME?

  • “Engrain the 7 Habits of highly effective people into everything you do,” was some advice my NJROTC naval science instructor gave me.
  • “Never believe you are incapable of learning something difficult, there isn’t one way to be taught something," advice my AP Trigonometry teacher gave me.
  • “Know/ understand your truth and nothing anyone says can make you feel bad about yourself” and “Learn others’ perspective because even when you think you’re right, you’re wrong," advice and life lessons from my mother, grandmother, and siblings ingrained in me.

MY FAVORITE TEACHER IN SCHOOL AND HOW THEY IMPACTED ME?
Both my previous AP Trigonometry teacher, Mr. Louis Arce & my previous NJROTC instructor, Dr. William Goggins. They both taught me valuable lessons about leadership, personal development and self-discovery. Mr. Arce understood that each student learns differently but by giving them the tools and lesson structure to teach themselves, we may produce even greater results than were planned. Dr. William Goggins impacted me by understanding the power in perspective. By identifying our strengths and weakness, we can reinforce and improve ourselves either through partnership and/or self-development.

MY MOST IMPORTANT PERSONAL ATTRIBUTE THAT I WILL BRING TO MY JOB
Intuition. In a data management & research coordinator role, my job is essentially to identify and produce the narrative with the given data. However, no matter the narrative, there are nuances in how we understand said raw data. By understanding the intricacies of how the data was collected, the purpose of the data, what factors impacted the metrics, what foundational research comes into play, where data gaps exist, etc. I can acquire a more realistic, whole perspective when interpreting spreadsheets of raw data.



LAURA JOHNSON


WHY AM I EXCITED TO BE WORKING WITH MILWAUKEE SUCCEEDS?
I’m excited to be here because Milwaukee Succeeds is improving educational outcomes through making connections! There are already so many incredible people and organizations in Milwaukee that are working hard for young people, and I love working for an initiative that recognizes that. Milwaukee Succeeds also recognizes that things move more efficiently when people are connected. Relationship building is vitally important in order to accomplish the community goals we work towards, and I like working in a space that values and fosters human connection in that way.

WHY AM I PROUD TO BE A VISTA?
I’m proud to be a VISTA because I get to be a part of a national network of people interested in building capacity for organizations that improve communities. This year of service is a unique opportunity to work full-time for an organization that wants to expand its reach, and that invites new perspectives in. Being a VISTA is fun because I’m given plenty of creative space and room to grow, both for myself and my position!

GREATEST BIT OF ADVICE A PARENT OR MENTOR HAS GIVEN ME?
My parents love The Four Agreements, so I’d say, “Be impeccable with your word.” It’s all about speaking with integrity, and using the power of your word and expression in the direction of truth and love.

MY FAVORITE TEACHER IN SCHOOL AND HOW SHE IMPACTED ME?
The best teacher I ever had was Dr. Sharon Jacob, a religion professor that I took 3 courses with in college. Sharon challenged me in a way a teacher never had before, because she made me ask questions about myself and my beliefs. Her gift is giving each student a wide space to grow, along with the support needed to do the growing. She made me a better writer, a better public speaker and a better person. Beyond that she instilled an immense amount of confidence in me, because she let me know that what I had to say was important and valuable.

MY MOST IMPORTANT PERSONAL ATTRIBUTE THAT I WILL BRING TO MY JOB
I’m super curious, so coming into a new city and job, my curiosity helps me work hard to absorb information then explore different ideas and offer up new solutions. I also like to laugh so that’s usually a fun attribute I bring with me wherever I go!


DAN BOMBERG


WHY AM I EXCITED TO BE WORKING WITH MILWAUKEE SUCCEEDS?
The ability to meet and convene people from many different sectors to take action on key issues is necessary for bettering our community. I get to meet and work with many practitioners from education to child welfare. They’re helping me develop a broader picture of the issues opportunity youth in Milwaukee face. With this broader picture, I’m excited to work with practitioners to collectively take action on these issues on multiple fronts to make Milwaukee a more equitable city.

WHY AM I PROUD TO BE A VISTA?
My VISTA experience has allowed me to work with folks who have the day-in and day-out dedication and heart to make Milwaukee a more just place. I’m proud to have the chance to work and learn with them.

GREATEST BIT OF ADVICE A PARENT OR MENTOR HAS GIVEN ME?
“Make sure there’s water in the pool before you jump in.”

MY FAVORITE TEACHER IN SCHOOL AND HOW SHE IMPACTED ME?
Benjamin Krahn, high school English. He taught me the importance of critical thinking, questioning, taking risks, intellectual flexibility, and the exhilaration of finding beauty, insight, and humor from literature to mortar.

MY MOST IMPORTANT PERSONAL ATTRIBUTE THAT I WILL BRING TO MY JOB
Curiosity. I like to think I’m open new ideas. I know I like learning what people do, hearing their perspectives, and working to synthesize ideas for collective action. Curiosity breeds versatility, and also resilience. I think that’s crucial for our work here at Milwaukee Succeeds. And for anyone committed to justice.



DOM PORTIS


WHY AM I EXCITED TO BE WORKING WITH MILWAUKEE SUCCEEDS?
Milwaukee Succeeds has been a staple in the Milwaukee community from the work and service that the organization is committed to. The reach and impact that Milwaukee Succeeds is second to none and I am ecstatic to be joining a group that is at the nucleus of something that encourages us to be change agents

WHY AM I PROUD TO BE A VISTA?
VISTA’s mission is to strengthen organizations that alleviate poverty through volunteering and the mobilization of resources. I sought a challenge, I sought a role that allows me to develop character and the work be of substance. I am proud to have the opportunity to do all of those things through the VISTA program.

GREATEST BIT OF ADVICE A PARENT OR MENTOR HAS GIVEN ME?
An individual whom I respect very much would always reference a quote that says life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. You can only control your own actions; don’t cry over spilt milk. That kind of mentality; a relentless attitude to seeing the brighter side of things.

MY FAVORITE TEACHER IN SCHOOL AND HOW SHE IMPACTED ME?
Having been blessed with a number of what I would call Master Educators in my career as a traditional student; Ms. Scherbert, 5th grade teacher at Lloyd Street Global Elementary stands out in my mind. A great motivator, but what stands out most is effort she put into developing a personal and trusting teacher and student bond with me. Utilizing a small window of about 8 minutes during dismissal each day to grow a personal relationship that she could rely on during instruction.

MY MOST IMPORTANT PERSONAL ATTRIBUTE THAT I WILL BRING TO MY JOB
Passion. Swagger.

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