Arts and Education

Alumni story
Alex Rodriguez 1995 1997 Dallas

I joined VISTA because I have a long standing commitment to service. After working at Brown University's Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service, I chose to return back to my organizing roots. I knew the work and experience I would gain from my service would be invaluable to the community and I also knew how the education stipend would further my interest in earning my masters; which happened in 2002 - MFA.

I worked for a Texas Commission on Arts program placing VISTA Volunteers in Arts in Education Programs. I was placed at the Dallas Children's Theatre working on their Curtains Up on Reading program which integrated the arts into the core curriculum at a DISD elementary school. The program worked in partnership with William B. Travis Elementary and the Dallas Public Housing Authority. My main focus was to recruit volunteers, write grants and reports, develop community events, and generate PR. 
My work made sure the resources were available to the program so students knew the importance of an education. Furthermore, the volunteers from the community gained invaluable work experience which encouraged them to pursue jobs in other non-profits in the area. All the work done happened because of the community's commitment to the program. Regardless if it were donations, grants, or volunteers, the program grew because efforts were made to welcome the community to be a part of the work and the vision. 
As the program grew, so did the support from the community, the funders, and the school district. When my term ended, the program was on a path where it was receiving interest from state and private funders that would ensure its existence long after VISTA's involvement. 
The opportunities that came from my VISTA experience were priceless. Without VISTA, I would have never realized my interest in the Arts and Education. If it wasn't for the education award, I would not have the funds necessary to attend graduate school. VISTA solidified my commitment to public service and made it possible for me to become the professional I am today. Every opportunity I have to encourage an individual to give a year or two to public service, I make sure I seize it with passion. 

Decade: 1990s