First AmeriCorps VISTA for Horizons at CA

by Romelo Wilson

Horizons at Colorado Academy has been my first job out of college. During my last semester of undergrad, I was focused on planning out my next life steps. As an International Studies major, I was set on joining the Peace Corps and working with communities in need in the Latin American region. However, while researching more about the Peace Corps, I came across AmeriCorps. I had always heard about it, but I never knew exactly what it entailed. Eventually, I learned the AmeriCorps is simply a domestic version of the Peace Corps. Both of the organizations share a mission of community work that’s focused on elevating a region out of poverty and despair. With programs like these, the emphasis is placed on working with the community instead of for the community.

At this point, I am halfway into my service year, and it has been a humbling and rewarding experience. I have built connections with numerous Colorado Academy faculty and families, who all have been able to give me more insight into the professional world as a recent college graduate. The AmeriCorps program is a useful resource to consider for not only college graduates but high school graduates as well! Most organizations through AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) require applicants to be at least 18, but there are a few that also accept 16- to 17-year-olds. This is why I recommended AmeriCorps to the Horizons high school students as a possible option to consider once they graduate.

If you are passionate about giving back and using your knowledge to contribute to a greater cause, the AmeriCorps program is something amazing to consider. So far, in my VISTA position, I worked behind the scenes during the summer program, have been able to boost Horizons’ social media presence, update the website, create fliers for outreach, work on program development, and assist with fundraising. It’s also been great in the sense of building a network. I have been networking with other VISTAs in Horizons programs across the country, professionals within Horizons National, and educators in Denver. Also, it has provided me with the opportunity to experience a new environment. I’m from the East Coast originally, so Colorado is the farthest west I’ve traveled.

I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, as I believe it is a good foundation for a career in public service and community work. Throughout my work, I have learned the necessary skills to carry into my next job. I’m looking forward to spending the second half of my service year continuing to increase recognition for Horizons, and ultimately, growing the program to benefit the youth we serve.