Promise Scholars Promotes Future Success…by Sara Clark
My name is Sara Clark and I serve as one of the VISTAs for HandsOn Inland Empire at Ontario-Montclair Promise Scholars Program, a college access initiative, in Southern California. Part of my “job” involves implementing a FAFSA Completion Campaign for high school seniors and the other component includes recruiting business and community leaders to present to 6th graders about their college and career experiences. Both of these tasks involve hours upon hours of exchanging emails, reading articles, and other (sometimes tedious) indoor office activities. It is really easy to get lost in text and forget the motivation behind your arduous activities.
However, I was reminded of why I joined the Promise Scholars Program, and AmeriCorps, in general when my first planned event occurred. On Friday, October 26, 2012, Hawthorne Elementary in Ontario, CA hosted the first Promise Scholars’ Business and Community Leaders College and Career Presentations’ Days. I was worried that the presenters would be boring and talk about their career at a level far above the students’ comprehension. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Seeing the students buzzing with questions, fully absorbed in the community leaders’ presentations, and the presenters’ talking with enthusiasm and smiles, ensured me that the event was successful.
All three 6th grade classrooms at Hawthorne participated in the event, along with three leaders from the local community. Megan Hebdon, the Redevelopment Analyst for the City of Ontario, taught students about the work that goes into bringing and keeping businesses in the city. Courtney Saldana, the Young Adult Librarian at the Ovitt Family Library, showed students that librarians not only check out books, but manage community projects, and so much more. And Oskar Ayon-Puga, President of Unidos Por La Musica, demonstrated that through perseverance, one can rise from humble beginnings to become the president of his own non-profit. As part of the presentation students signed a certificate, making the promise to themselves that they will pursue and obtain their bachelor’s degree. I thought this was especially a memorable and personal touch. All the presenters were so personal and straightforward, the students paid attention to the details; I even found myself enthralled and learning new things from the community leaders’ presentations.
The students were not the only ones benefiting from the event. After their presentations, the community leaders exchanged business cards, establishing a partnership for similar projects each was working on.
Witnessing a relationship blooming among school staff, the community leaders, and the students in the classroom provided me with a heartfelt reminder of why I am a VISTA, just as I was growing weary. This event reminded me of why I love serving. I love connecting people. None of these connections would have been possible without the tedious typing done at my office desk. I now see the vitality of indirect service and I thank the people I serve for showing me it!