What careers have you all chosen after VISTA?

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I'd be really interested in the career paths people took after VISTA. We started out as a very skewed sample and I'd assume many ended up in the helping professions in one way or another. But maybe not. I bet we have some interesting paths!

I began with a BA in cultural anthropology and later an MSW. I was a therapist in a San Francisco community mental health clinic and then a therapist at a community mental health rape treatment program. There I worked primarily with adult men raped as adults- doing both individual and group therapy.

I've had a private psychotherapy practice since 1991, providing both individual and group therapy for gay men molested as children. I also provide some training, consultation, supervision- but the therapy is my real love.

What are the rest oof you doing?

Susan

I was drafted in August of 1968 after I let VISTA know I was resigning my VISTA Leader Position in Wichita Kansas to pursue a masters degree in Social change.

After I got out of the army, I looked at graduate schools again but ended up taking a job with the Internal Revenue Service thinking I would work for a year while deciding what to do next.

I found an evening graduate program in public administration and earned my MPA and almost finished a doctorate.

I took an early retirement after 23 years with IRS. I worked for 10 years as a telecommunications/ systems implementation consultant for a major consulting firm.

While working on a software implementation project, I reuturned to my interest in group processes which lead to a Masters Degree in OrganizationalPyschology and part time work as a group faciliator working with non-profits and churches.

I eventualy took a job as a project manager for our county mental health program developing hosuing for individuals with mental illness. I work with local agencies addressing homelessness. I was asked to serve as the county representative on the local community action partnership board. I am currently the vice-chairman. SO I seem to have come fully circle.

BTW, the Community Action Partnership has had two VISTA volunteers working with us for the last year.

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66-Present: Wife & mother/grandmother

73-Present: Fiber artist (spinning,weaving, etc.)

86-99 Social Work / Aministration (2 American Red Cross chapters, Head Start, United Way, drug and alcohol treatment and prevention programs)

87-96: UU'Serve Director --Designed and Administered my own volunteer program based on Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes; Recruited college age volunteers, and later intergenerational group, to work on Rosebud (Sicangu) Reservation. UU'Serve program was the basis for my award winning masters thesis for completion of my degree in public administration at Kutztown University in 1993. UU'Serve program and thesis research used for the basis of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committe's "Just Works" Program -- their first direct service volunteer program in many years. They also folded my UU'Serve program into that endeavor -- for better or worse. . . .

99-08: A Winner Organizing Consultant (personal and business organizing business -- space, time and paper managemnent)

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Left Vista in Arkansas 69/70 and returned to finish BA in art.Worked as a bartender/therapist,factory worker etc. Graduated 73 Taught Headstart,case worker for welfare dept. and other odd jobs. Struggled between social work and art. Finally ended up as a firefighter for the US Forest Service for 26 years and am now back doing art fulltime and local volunteer work Content after a life of service

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I am presently living in Seattle and was in VISTA from 1973 t0 1974 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn working as a community organizer around health issues, mostly to improve conditions of Medicad Mills. My expierence in VISTA lead me to my career in public health as a Disease Investagtor and HIV/AIDS Surveillance Coordinator. I had graduated college with a degree in Business Administration and have been working in public health for 35 years. I grew up in Brooklyn and VISTA assigned me to project in Brooklyn, and the reason I had joined VISTA was to leave New York.
I am retired now, and do volunteer work in hospice with special needs kids. VISTA definitely turned my life around.

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Hi Mark,
Your story sounds like the way i want mine to be =). I am from Williamsburg brooklyn and i got my VISTA assignment in SC ( which i will be leaving to in July). I also have gotten the opportunity to work with public health development and i am excited. And i too have a BA in business administrative.I wanted to ask you if you had any tips on how to transition from my degree to public health, while my work background is in administrative assistant and office manager? i feel as if we share similar beliefs =)

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After a year(1966) in NYC then a VISTA leader I traveled nationally and internationally. Earned my BS in Education and MS in Child and Adolescent Development. Work with students in public education who have emotional behavior disorder. I believe my VISTA directly influenced my career path.
Rosemary

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I guess you could say that my service in Vista pointed me in a certain direction. In 1967 I was in training in Tempe, Az. at ASU. We spent most of our time at the Maricopa colonies on the Pima indian reservation. We trained in everything from building repair (carpentry and such) to cooking. (You even had to kill a chicken and prepare it for your own lunch.) Being raised in a rural setting I was pretty much used to these activities, however many in our training group were from urban backgrounds and had a rough time even dealing with such things. I was able to coach some of them though, and we all got through it. When my assignment came, I was sent to a reservation that really didn't need the skills I had, and I was assigned to work with "Head Start" and other programs for kids.(All thanks to the powers that be, who didn't want to listen to our training staff, and changed all of our assignments at the last minute) Be that as it may, I was able to perform my duties as expected, and learned that anything can be done if you want it bad enough. How does that affect my choice of career? I started a cabinet and millwork company with the idea that "If you can immagine it, I can build it". I know that sounds pompous, but I've never dissapointed a customer yet.
I've read some of the posts from the kids that are just coming into Vista or have only been in for a short time, and I just want to say "Hang in there" You never know what you are capable of until you do it! I'm proud of you all.

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I had an Air Force career and got a, AS, BS and MA during my tenure (22 years). Post Air Force I worked as a JrROTC instructor (leadership) and then did a couple years in Peace Corps (Ukraine 2005-2007). My spouse and I came back from Ukraine and decided to do AmeriCorps*VISTA - my tenure here winds down (New Mexico Coalition for Literacy working as a recruitment specialist helping small programs all over the state. Now, with about ten years before my really, truley retirment, I am looking for employment where I can use my wonderful experiuences, skills and interests. I am open to new adventures...got some appilcations going in federal service, but I am open to life and opportunities to grow, learn and make a difference...Septemeber is the end of my contract.

Life is good.

"Ginn"
In Sunny Santa Fe

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I did my first VISA year in TX (2002-2003). Afrer that I went into te Peace Corps (PC-Ukraine, 2004-2006) and then sent about three years in Boston work for a political consulting firm during the 2006 and 2008 elections. I am back with VISTA now, serving in OK as a VISTA Leader for our statewide community health capacity-building project and I am working on a Ph.D. in Community Economic Development. I hope to continue to work in public and community service areas.

Patricia

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Hey Patricia, I'd be interested in hearing more about your transition from Americorps to Peacecorps. What did you do for Peacecorps and what was your take on your experience/the things you were available to learn (concerning all the mixed reviews).  I'm thinking of doing the same. Shoot me an email if you are available to chat!
Thanks!
-Seongseongkyul.park@gmail.com

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Hi Susan
I had a family studies degree (BA) when I joined VISTA. My position was a great training ground for my MSW. I did two years working with domestic violence offenders working as a clinician for the Dept of Justice and then returned back to school to get my PhD in SW. Right now, working on a federal fellowship studying children's mental health with a focus on Latino/a adolescents.
Sounds like a few of us share similar paths!
Susan

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Hi Susan,
I took a year off between my sophomore and junior years in college to go into VISTA. My father was not a happy camper, but it was the best thing I ever did. After my year of working with young people (recreational activities and teaching math, Black History), I returned to school super motivated. I completed a BS in Biology, Chemistry and 2nd Education, met a fellow student and we were married in my Senior year, went on to graduate school (MBA and MMSE) and onto work. But I also teach in community college and did/do volunteer work (NAACP, Upward Bound, volunteer tutoring, etc.). I'm a Quality Manager for a company on Guam at this time; my husband is here, also. What I learned in VISTA helped me relate to people no matter who they are and to look beyond the surface.
Helen

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Hi, I was a Vista in 1982/83. I was in in Florida .I worked with seasonal and migrant farmworkers. I now live in in Chicago. I have a BS in Biology and I am a paramedic with the fire department. I also teach at a city college. VISTA taught me so much.....Val

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I worked for the Door, an underground newspaper and then another newspaper, Newsline, both in San Diego. After that I ran the graphics department at a resort in Florida and then worked at AOL I currently work at a mindless job at a credit union for medical benefits.

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There are times I wish I never left Idaho, but, its been a great ride since, was going to re up for another tour, but I just had to get out and see the world, and so applied for and went into Peace Corps in Kenya in 1980. They put me to work building water systems, which was about the furthest thing from my mind (sociology major here) but I decided I liked it and thought engineering was worth pursuing. But first I came to the US, worked for a spell in New Jersey, then got a job working in Germany, had a great year in Europe, then came back and went back at the age of 29 to University in Massachusetts and picked up a second degree in civil engineering. From there, I settled down in rural north Florida, learned my trade, got married overseas, had three great kids, went into my own business doing environmental engineering work. Work all over the place in Florida and in the islands, been very lucky there. Back in Idaho, I used to moonlight at night cleaning offices, and took the money and part of my stipend and learned to fly. Today flying is part of the business.

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I was a volunteer in western ky.in 1972-1973 working for the CAP with a non profit cooperative business in Hickman Ky.Since then I returned to NY and received my MSW and MPA degree.I then began work, for the last 33 years, as a social worker within New york State's public mental health system. I am now retired and hope to return to Hickman to visit.

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I trained/stayed at the YMCA hotel in Chicago in 1968 (just having reached my 19th birthday) and was then sent to southeast Ohio with the remnants of the "Institute for Regional Development" group as watchdogs. We were later sent to Meigs Co. Ohio with a CAP program. The local people that I met in those years were an inspiration and awakening to me; I still actually communicate with the children of the family that I was first assigned to live with!!
After leaving Ohio in fall of 1969 I entered the apprenticeship program of the Union plumbers in New York City. (my next occupational deferrment!....some of the "old fogies" will know what I'm referring to!!)I am about a year away from retirement now, having spent 41 years as a Union plumber but never strayed far from the social involvment that VISTA generated in me.I have been actively involved in my Church, in many fraternal charitable organizations, with homes for abused women, food pantries, ARC and Special Olympics, local adult ed courses, religious education programs, and probably quite a few that I no longer remember.
Having relocated after marriage to New Jersey, I had the distinct honor of being selected as the Knight Of The Year in 1995 for the N.J. State Knights of Columbus from over 65,000 members. My family and I continue to stay involved in Charitable work and I often tell friends that my time with VISTA was the spark that ignited the fire of social responsibility inside me. WHAT AN EYE-OPENER THAT TIME WAS FOR ME!!!

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I met my now husband in January of 1969 - he and two other guys were assigned to a CAP agency as VISTAs doing "economic development." I was a senior in college and all three of the VISTA guys married three of the college's girls and we were and still are all friends. 40+ years later we all are still married. I was the only one of the college chums to join VISTA in the summer of 1969 after I graduated with a BA in Science (preMed). And all three couples married in the Spring of 1970 in or near the town to which our husbands were assigned.

During the Spring of '69 I started a half-day nursery school program in my then significant-other's apartment in a low-income housing project under the auspices of the local CAP agency and my college's early education program - two sessions/day, five days a week, each with 20 children - using local high-school and college volunteers. We had the only car and phone for 70 families - lots of late night knocks on the door and runs to the ER. The nursery school program continued as my assignment after I joined VISTA and was adopted by a Montessori Program when my husband and I left VISTA the year after my joining, he now having done a 2-year tour.

VISTA was probably the best experience of my life and taught me always to live in my true persona and to drop the stereo-typical veneer of being "non-judgmental" and "continuously objective." None of the families believed that "super" person, and after I lost it in a fight in the open courtyard with an irate mother who accused me of turning her into the "Welfare" (the enemy), I was able to do more counseling and health ed in the 3 months left in my tour than in the entire period before. My fondest memory is the state cop who followed us twice a day in hot weather to and from a local lake to make certain that my GSA station wagon, in which I had piled 20 kids in the back (a truly arrestable offense), was not rear-ended. The worst memory is when one of the kids threw the GSA keys into the lake and we had to round up a slew of volunteers to come pick them up using the state trouper's radio.

I have spent most of the last 40 years in public service either with a CAP agency or in public health and am now a health care consultant, rarely using my PhD in health economics. My husband, who has been awarded many times for his commitment to pro bono work, is an attorney who worked as a State AG and is now in private practice. We often talk about our VISTA days and to our VISTA alumni friends and strongly support the concept of one or more years of mandatory public service for all American young adults, either between high school and college or immediately after college graduation. Our standard mantra is "We needed VISTA more than VISTA needed us." And we proudly display over our fireplace mantel the "Graduate" VISTA recruitment poster in which Dustin Hoffman points and 'says,' "I want you!"

And by the way, we're any of you involved in the Vietnam War Protest in which a bunch of VISTAs from all over the US, using our GSA cars (appropriately adorned with signage, of course) and gas cards, drove to the desert southwest to put our cars in a circle as a message to the circling FBI Helicopters and to Cap the Knife? Or the WRO protest - again joined by VISTAs from all over the US- in which a now US Senator participated?

We need to have a re-union by decade of service so that we can preserve and archive all of our experiences which are now an essential part of the fiber of our lives.

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I spent two years in Little Rock 70 to 72 working with the Economic Opportunity Agency of Pulaski County and a health clinic. Then I worked a year for company making dot matrix printers. Then got MS degree in Health Systems Management Engineering. I have worked in hospitals every since including 20 years managing information technology. My current job is "improvement," working with teams in a medical center to improve work processes, enhance quality, eliminate waste and the like. In my current job, I wrote a grant proposal that was funded entitled "Developing a Culture of Continuous Improvement." Its fun to organize employee improvement teams, but difficult to change a "command and control" culture in the organization. I also volunteer for Destination Imagination a nation wide organization with state affiliates that promotes a creative problem solving program in public schools.

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After VISTA (70-71 in Dade County Florida), I moved north to Tallahassee to finish school and have been here ever since. I live in a large and successful intentional community that I helped start. I've worked in-and-out of government. Currently I manage research and development for a library technology organization.

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After the OR Bail Project in San Francisco I stayed and went on to Nursing School there. I lived in S.F. for 15 years total then moved to Sacramento and became a Nurse Educator for the balance of my career. Interesting question!
~ginny

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My first term was in Utah, working for a woman's organization that worked on social justice issues... I learned all about peaceful civil disobedience, the power of getting the true experts of poverty - single mothers who wanted a better life for themselves and their children - involved in working on the issues that affect them... My next two terms of service were as a VISTA leader in southeastern rural Utah. I supervised 14 VISTAs and also worked with teens in two counties who organized and ran their own volunteer program. They won the governor's Silver Bowl award for Volunteer Excellence their first year. After that, I worked as a fundraising consultant for small non profit organizations around the western part of the U.S I helped set up development offices, trained board and staff members and helped them raise funds through grant writing, special events and donor programs.

After that, I worked with entrepreneurs who were looking for business grants, and after helping a couple of people get business grants through their local Vocational Rehab offices, I started getting calls from Voc Rehab directors and working with their clients.

After that, I moved to writing, and became a ghost writer, working primarily with doctors and ECOs and attorneys who wanted to write their own books.

Now I'm married to my soul mate, I live in the south of France and spend the majority of my time writing.

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I left Baton Rouge in the summer of 1968, still trying to avoid military service, to no avail.  After the army and my action adventure tour, I went to Europe for a year of travel where I decided to continue doing the work I'd done in the army.  I've now been a nurse for over 30 years, work part time in the hospital here and teach part time in the school of nursing at the university where I live. VISTA taught me that a life of service may not be the road to riches, but it certainly can enrich one's life.

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I did two years of service (one VISTA, one AmeriCorps*State), both with organizations that focused on disaster response.  I went on to get my Master's in Public Health and have been working in the field of disaster/humanitarian response ever since - a total of 8 years in the profession, starting off domestically and moving to international work about 5 years ago.
My service years totally re-focused me and put me on a completely different path than I was originally on, and I've never looked back!  

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Hey VISTA alums,

Can you help a current VISTA out?
Hi VISTAs.

My school has 13 more days to win a national competition for a $50,000 grant.

In order to vote you just need to TEXT 925pbf to 95248. THAT'S IT.

Imagine if every VISTA voted, and got a family member or friend to vote too?

We're in 6th place now. I think we could win this....what a great way to promote the work and POWER of VISTAs on a national level.

Here is the link for more information, I promise I'm not scamming you. https://powerabrightfuture.clorox.com/nominees/detail/?nid=925

YOU ROCK. Thanks for voting!

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