Reflecting on AmeriCorps
By Tamika Keener
In November 2021, I began serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Rock It! Lab. Rock It! Lab supports entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities in Central Arkansas, and my research project as a VISTA explored how other organizations successfully integrate groups with varying language, racial, cultural, and economic differences cohesively into their programming and foster a sense of community and equal learning and growth amongst all participants while doing so. The aim of the research is to assess current thinking on best practices for Latino outreach. From my initial start until present, I have built partnerships with local organizations, businesses, and state entities, gained communication sources, and connected with the Latino community.
My mindset and beliefs have been shaped by my time in AmeriCorps and my experiences with the Rock It! Lab. My service has broadened my thinking about our communities, our cities, the state, and the nation. My research sparked my interest to serve an additional year as a VISTA in order to continue furthering the goal of recruitment and outreach to the Latinx community. While I’m currently serving in my second year with Rock It! Lab, I have actually been a VISTA member since 2016, when I served for two years with the STAND Foundation.
I have always had a heart for community service and the under-served, so AmeriCorps was the perfect fit for me! I have been fortunate to serve my communities in numerous forms throughout my life from my sorority, the United States Air Force, and my church. Having the opportunity to serve as a VISTA through AmeriCorps has been a true blessing for me because it has provided me with experience and opportunities; my role as a VISTA aligns with my values and mission to help eradicate poverty in our communities.
Each time I serve as a VISTA I always gain knowledge of some sort, but lately has even led to a sense of discernment about my future career choices. Thanks to my time volunteering with Rock It! Lab, I am strongly considering pursuing work in the field of diversity and inclusion. I am taking more interest in being involved with entities that want to achieve equality and diversity. Another passion I have is science – I have a Bachelor of Science in biology. I never would have imagined taking interest in anything else, but having this opportunity gives me great appreciation to expanding my horizons. I must give credit to God and AmeriCorps for assisting with my progression and outlook on life the last 5 years. AmeriCorps has been life changing for me. Thank you, AmeriCorps!