Name: Miriam Ureno
Host Site: CSU, Stanislaus
Alma Mater: CSU, Stanislaus
Major: Psychology with a minor in Chemistry
Unexpected Results: It doesn’t matter how well organized an event, a routine, or life can be, always expect the unexpected. When I joined AmeriCorps VISTA, I was aspiring to make a difference on my campus, CSU Stanislaus, and in my local community. As a K-12 STEM Outreach Coordinator, my main focus was to reach out to students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). My resolve to complete this purpose and my passion to reach out to K-12 students was extremely strong and everything else just disappeared. I was not aware of the impact that serving would have on my family and myself. Now that I am getting close to the end of the year, I realize that our spheres of influence as VISTAs tend to interconnect and affect each other. I am extremely pleased to say that even when my programs reached out to close to 2200 participants in our community, it also positively helped to mold the lives of two young girls: my daughters.
My daughters have always liked science and mathematics in school, but they never actively sought to do experiments, research science-related content, or question natural phenomena. Little did I know these intelligent and perceptive girls were paying close attention to my passionate conversations related to volunteering and science. Eliana, my twelve-year-old middle school student, volunteered for the first time during our Science Day and Xiara, my eight-year-old elementary student, will be the president of a Science Club at her school; both of my daughters have increased their inquisitiveness and their desire to pursue a career in science. Now when we sit at the table, they want to know about viruses, tectonic plates, density, and other STEM subjects. Now I have a true understanding that as long as we empower one child, we have made a difference.
Best Year Ever: When people ask me about my personal experience with the CSU STEM VISTA program, I always tell them that this is one of the best years of my life. This program empowered me to believe that I was an agent of change and a strong influence in my environment. It taught me to persist and thrive in the midst of fear, difficulties, and uncertainty. These lessons changed my life and my perspective on education and leadership, and I am not the same person who started this program a year ago.