Five Reflections on Gratitude as a VISTA

By Michelle Graff, Marketing and Recruitment Specialist – American Indian OIC

As I reflect on my time spent being an AmeriCorps VISTA thus far, a word that comes to mind is gratitude. This experience has challenged me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It continues to shape me as a person through and through, and for that I am extremely grateful. Taking part in the AmeriCorps VISTA program is an awesome fit for those striving to continue growing professionally, as well as personally. I would like to take a moment to share why gratitude comes to mind while reflecting on my experience.

1. Opportunity to develop skills professionally – As a graduate with a marketing degree, I have had the opportunity working with American Indian OIC to continue developing and broadening my marketing skill set. I have done everything from market research to professional photography. This is unique because many entry-level marketing positions do not receive as much diversified responsibility as I have with American Indian OIC. I am incredibly thankful for the ability to try many different avenues of Marketing.

2. Cohort Bonding – In college, I was always surrounded  by a large group of friends. It wasn’t until after I graduated I realized this reality had changed. When I entered into the VISTA program with Phillips Foundation, I didn’t really know much about what it meant to be part of a cohort. I was hesitant at first, but after spending time with the cohort, I truly began to see the value of being surrounded by a group of people. Being part of this cohort provided new opportunities for friendships and growth, which I was worried wouldn’t be part of my post grad life. The friendships I have developed within my cohort are another reason I am grateful.

3. Priorities Assessment – This year has included some sacrifices, but through those sacrifices I believe I have gained so much more. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I focus on all that I do have. I eat a meal three times a day, and have a roof over my head. Not everyone can say that. I am thankful for the reminder to keep things in perspective.

4. Community Support – I think living on a VISTA salary creates a certain sense of humility. I have learned how to graciously accept offers from various people in my life. With that being said, the generosity and support from all those who surround me never cease to amaze me. I am incredibly grateful for their thoughtfulness.

5. Resourcefulness – I have learned to be incredibly resourceful this past year. With everything from finding the best happy hours to couponing for household items, I have embraced it. It’s awesome to practice learning how to budget and cut out excess ways of spending. Conscious spending is an important life lesson to learn.