Allison Barlow, MTCC VISTA at the Greater Gallatin United Way
What is your background that led you to serve as a VISTA member?
In college, I was so focused with school work and keeping my grades up that I totally lost sight of being involved with my community out-side of the university. Upon graduating, I felt like now’s my time. I worked with high school students doing conservation work at a state park, alongside state and national AmeriCorps mem-bers, and the light bulb went off. VISTA was the step I needed to take to further my career options and help me understand which direction to take my future.
Describe a typical workday at your host site.
Luckily, it’s hard to describe a typical day. Each day is different depending on the time of month. Everyday, when I come in to work, coffee in hand, I check and respond to my emails. After that, it’s always up in the air. I may be entering attendance in the “snack reimbursement” spreadsheet, working on invoicing, or entering new students into our different systems. Occasionally, I’ll sub at one of the after-school programs in the afternoons —those days are fun, but few.
How have you incorporated your campus partner into your work efforts?
Our campus partner plays a huge role in the work I do. MSU education students work in our programs Monday- Thursday as program coordinators. Having them there offers a financial benefit, in that the school district doesn’t have to pay for more staffing, but more importantly it means the kiddos have more caring adults to interact with and see as role models.
What are your motivating factors that justify this type of work?
Having and creating a sense of community is what drives my work. The partnership be-tween GGUW, the Bozeman School District and MSU has really taught me how a com-munity can work together, pull resources and reach mutual goals. This is something that I would love to see happen in the community where I went to school—and hope that after VISTA I can help to make that happen.
What are your plans after VISTA?
The million dollar question! I’ve decided November is the month to get job applications out and my resume in the hands of as many potential employers as possible! I’m thankful that Greater Gallatin United Way will be able to hire me on part time for a few months, but I am looking elsewhere in Montana and also back East for a full-time position. I’m hope to work with school districts, non-profits and other organizations that provide programming for students, both in and out of school time.
Source: MTCC AMERICORPS*VISTA QUARTERLY MEMBER FOCUS