Grow, VISTA, Grow.


Written by: Brandy Hyatt, CSU STEM VISTA 2014-15 at CSU East Bay Institute for STEM Education

This time last year I was preparing to move to a region I had never even visited. I took a chance on faith that would lead to, in hindsight, some incredible things. I put aside my doubts and hopped on a plane to California.

Before starting at my VISTA site, all VISTA members are required to attend Pre-Service Orientation (PSO). “Grow! Grow! VISTA! VISTA!” This was the chant repeated throughout PSO. At the time I just thought it was some meaningless saying to build comradery. Now, as I approach the final week of my VISTA service, that chant has gained meaning for me.

“There is no growth without change…But you see that light, that beautiful next level and that’s all you have to focus on” – Ali Brown

During the past year I have grown immensely both personally and professionally. I came into my VISTA position with a variety of skills from a diversity of backgrounds. The year taught me how to combine those skills and use them to complete my tasks. For example, I was able to use my experience as a teacher/tutor together with my knowledge of different software to put on workshops for the Institute student workers. During my VISTA year I was able to use and hone my analytical, technical and artistic skills.

I grew personally as well during this time. I have not always been the most sociable person. Honestly before my move here I did not make it a priority to engage with others outside of my friend group. Yet, here I was in a new environment and it would be vital to connect with others if I was to make it through the year. I was fortunate enough to have the support of the eleven VISTA members in my cohort.

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are” – Max DePress

Everyone in my cohort has taught me or strengthened something different in me. Noya brought out the activist in me. Phil showed me it IMG_2355is okay to me time and not feel bad about it. August taught me how to have fun in any setting. From Shannon, I learned that your age does not determine your maturity. Jessica showed me how to stay calm in high stress situations. Nina gave me the courage to be myself and how to drive a car. Jeffrey showed me how to be a shoulder to lean on. Karina taught me that intelligence is not overbearing and loud, but bright and gentle. Kyle gave me the strength to be open to people. Noe showed me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. Jaklen taught me how to dance to my own beat.

I am truly honored to say I was a part of the 2014 – 2015 CSU STEM VISTA cohort. I came into this year unsure of my choices, but I leave knowledgeable, resourceful, flexible and competent. I wish only continued growth and progress for myself and all of my VISTA members.

To my VISTA cohort: You are all light, shine bright and change the world.


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