At Latino Network, we are always trying to find new and fun ways to recognize the people who are on the ground making a difference in our community: our staff. That's why we're starting a blog series that features our employees who are doing amazing things with youth, families, and communities here in Portland.
To start, we're featuring our very own AmeriCorps Vista, Thalia Garcia-Aguilar!
Thalia helps coordinate all of our volunteers at Latino Network. From recruitment to training, she's the one who helps our organization connect with awesome people in the community who want to volunteer their time with our programs.
Before she became our AmeriCorps Vista, Thalia was with Latino Network as an AmeriCorps Summer Vista, helping our School Based Programs in our Ninth Grade Counts summer program. In August 2016, she became our resident Vista and started her volunteer coordinating position with us.
Here is what she had to say about her experience at Latino Network:
Question: What motivated you to go into AmeriCorps?
Thalia: Throughout my undergraduate schooling I meet a lot of people who told me about their experiences in AmeriCorps and it seemed really rewarding. I also remember receiving different job offers right after graduation, but none of them fit according to what I thought would be my next step in my career, so I joined AmeriCorps. Once I got involved I knew it was the right choice.
Question: What do you think about working for Latino Network?
Thalia: I ran across Latino Network during my undergraduate studies at Warner Pacific. The people I met were great and because I'm a first-generation Mexican-American, working here feels familiar. There's a lot of parallels between working at Latino Network and the family atmosphere I grew up with at home.
Question: What are you studying in school now? What would you like to do with it?
Thalia: I received my B.S. in May 2016 in Social Entrepreneurship. I originally wanted to get my MBA, but after working in the 9th Grade Counts program this past summer, I decided to pursue my Masters in Education. I don't know what my dream career is, but it definitely involves running a business in the interest of education, social justice, and diversity. I also would love to travel throughout the country and teach schools how to dismantle systems of oppression and become more inclusive and equitable environments.
Question: What's a success story that you've experienced while working at Latino Network?
Thalia: During my Summer Vista service with 9th Grade Counts, I connected one of my students who was into skateboarding with a friend of mine who was starting up a skateboarding company called Quartet. I asked him for Quartet stickers because my student liked the one on my water bottle. I told him how passionate my student was to learn how to skateboard, and how he was a great leader in the classroom. He was one of my students who can rally this peers together and often would help get his peers to be involved in activities. My friend gifted a skateboard and t-shirt to my student because of the student's initiative to lead and make a difference.
Months later, I got to meet my former student's mother. She wanted to let me know how well her son was doing in school and how meeting my friend has motivated him to graduate high school. He's also getting better at skateboarding! It was amazing to create the connection between the student and my friend, and to help foster a passion within the student that inspired him to succeed. That's what education is all about, and that's what I plan to do in the future!
Thank you Thalia for your amazing work at Latino Network and your passion to help the community! We can't wait to see what you'll achieve in the future!
If you're interested in connecting with Thalia to volunteer with us, click the button below: