Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

What Does AmeriCorps VISTA Mean? – Alexandra Ehrhardt

I remember the months of May and June a year ago. A darker point of time in my life, I found myself at a tipping point – what my next step in life would be in comparison with the future I prepared for myself.

I entered my professor’s office in tears, and I left with tissues. At the time I am a 21 year old college graduate who stepped over the cliff of comfort and certainty with the weight of her frustrated parents accelerating her further towards the waters unknown. I think about it now.

Man, it still hurts.

Over the cliff I carried with me much success. My alma mater, Tulane University, acknowledged this. My professors seconded this, and my resume showed this. But my goals changed. I was no longer the science student that brought much joy to my parents. Even without the desires of medical school or graduate school, my parents believed science brought good tidings to my life. The hours of tears spent in the lab or the crippling test anxiety meant little to the possible success I may have in the future.


Home of the Green Wave

I fell. I fell so far, so fast, and I crashed into the rocks. I felt so free. A small taste of autonomy acquired. AmeriCorps VISTA developed into a sense of freedom, liberation, and joy.

This job allows one to do what is right. This job allows one to do what is best. This is the view of the world from the ground looking up. And with the pulse of the people, fighting through the murky and cumbersome landscape, perspectives are acquired. AmeriCorps VISTA means constant learning, constant progress, and a reframing of victories resulting in proud accomplishments.

I caught up with a former science professor of mine about a month ago. He asked me what occupied my time most of the days, and I told him of my job and why I made the change. He thought it was the best thing for me, and he acknowledged the importance of giving at least a year of service to those who need service most. In my mind, this statement registered as everyone: everyone needs service the most. Maybe that’s just an AmeriCorps way of thinking. Everyone needs an opportunity for growth in the most liberating of ways.

My crippling sense of doubt – of myself and of my abilities – transformed into a beautiful experience as I watched my experiences turn into wisdom and my fears turned into glories.

I thank the world every day for my VISTA experience. I hope that others and those we serve feel the same way.



This entry was posted on June 1, 2015 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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