Meet Our VISTA Members

July 22, 2019

Name: Alejandra Maldonado

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Education: B.A. in Spanish and minor in Philosophy from Central College

Host Site: Central College, Pella, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Coming from a poor community made me want to do something to help out and better communities like mine. 

Three words that best describe me: shy, pensive, friendly

One thing I can’t live without: Music

Something I like to do for fun: Play Catan, draw, read, and travel

 

Name: Alexandra Hyatt

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Longview, Tx

Education: Bachelor of Arts in International Studies/French

 

Host Site: Community Action Center, Northfield, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: I was raised by my grandparents, who have dedicated their lives to service. As they approach their eighties, they’re still serving others every day. I want to follow their example and continue their mission. 

Three words that best describe me: Determined, affectionate, reflective

One thing I can’t live without: My morning run/walk with music

Something I like to do for fun: Read or daydream

 

Name: Alizé McClure

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Education: BA in Creative writing and English

 

Host Site: Willis Dady Homeless Services, Cedar Rapids, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Growing up so close to the poverty line I’ve always had a practical understanding of it. I’ve also witnessed the struggles of poverty and I want to help fix the system that makes cyclical and generational poverty a possibility.

Three words that best describe me: Pensive. Introspective. Versatile.

One thing I can’t live without: Music!

Something I like to do for fun: Watch Netflix while doing cardio!

 

Name: Chloe Goodman

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Lakeville, MN

Education: BS from DePaul University

 

Host Site: Center for Health Interprofessional Programs, Minneapolis, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: I have always valued serving others and when I was deciding what college I wanted to go to, DePaul’s mission of “what must be done?” which focused on the importance of serving our communities, reaffirmed that it was the right university for me. After choosing  DePaul, I was able to carry out this mission through a program called Global Brigades. While working with this organization, fellow DePaul students and I collaborated with communities creating sustainable infrastructures that focused on health and healthcare. After graduating, I wanted to continue to do similar work which led me to AmeriCorps!

Three words that best describe me: Hard working, genuine, loyal 

One thing I can’t live without: Music

Something I like to do for fun: Go on bike rides or hikes

 

Name: Claudette Breaux

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Luling, LA

Education: Beloit College

 

 

Host Site: United Way of East Central Iowa, Cedar Rapids, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: When I was young, the owner of my daycare saw that I was genuinely interested in reading, but I didn’t have access to many books or opportunities to learn. She chose to take time out of her day to teach me to read, even though I was “too young.” I want to provide opportunities to kids like I was given when I was young.

Three words that best describe me: Honest, friendly, and thoughtful

One thing I can’t live without: My phone

Something I like to do for fun: Knit and listen to podcasts/audio books!

 

Name: Courtney Erickson

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Hometown: Starbuck, MN

Education: Communication Studies Major and Public Health Minor; BA from Gustavus Adolphus College

 

Host Site: Open Door Health Center, Mankato, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Participating in a class that helped Somali families in St. Peter, MN form connections and solve problems with teachers in the St. Peter School District.

Three words that best describe me: Ambitious, compassionate, and gregarious

One thing I can’t live without: Personal Connections/Interactions

Something I like to do for fun: Spending time on the lake with friends and family

 

Name: Crystal Yearous

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Marshall, MN

Education: BA Psychology

 

Host Site: Southwestern Minnesota State University, Marshall, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Poverty and hunger during childhood

Three words that best describe me: Initiative, inventive, imaginative

One thing I can’t live without: Coffee

Something I like to do for fun: Crochet baby blankets

 

Name: Daina Strub

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Rockford, MN

Education:I have B.S. in biology with minors in sociology and leadership from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

 

Host Site: Brightside Produce, St. Paul, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Both participating in a variety of mission work from roofing houses, cleaning up urban green spaces, and serving as a volunteer director for a children’s choir as well as my college coursework surrounding systemic inequalities, specifically in food and healthcare availability.

Three words that best describe me: Driven, imaginative, and empathetic.

One thing I can’t live without: The people I love.

Something I like to do for fun: Practice karate.

 

Name: Derrick Fritz

Pronouns: He/him/his

Hometown: Stewartville, Mn

Education: BS in Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

 

Host Site: Rochester Community Schools, Rochester, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: After having experiences in Washington D.C. and in Wisconsin, I realized I wanted to further my growth in the public health field while helping individuals in the community I grew up in, making the AmeriCorps VISTA position the perfect opportunity. 

Three words that best describe me: Passionate, friendly and thoughtful

One thing I can’t live without: Sports

Something I like to do for fun: Spending time with family and friends 

 

  Name: Emma Kiley 

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Apple Valley, MN 

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Hamline University 

 

Host Site: Hamline University, St. Paul, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: About a year ago, I attended a talk on food and agricultural justice. One of the panelists shared this quote by Terry Tempest Williams: “It just may be that the most radical act we can commit is to stay home. What does that mean to finally commit to a place, to a people, to a community?…” I reflected on this quote and decided not to take my resistance elsewhere, leading me to commit to a year of service as a VISTA at Hamline. 

Three words that best describe me: Steady, passionate, and introspective 

One thing I can’t live without: Coffee! 

Something I like to do for fun: My friends and I love to play board games and have movie nights. 

 

Name: Faith James

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Greensboro NC

Education: BA in International Studies

 

Host Site: Minnesota State Office of Equity and Inclusion, St. Paul, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: I volunteered a lot in high school and really valued the experiences and the people I met through that time. I didn’t have the same time to offer after beginning college and wanted to spend more time doing the things that matter to me after graduating.

Three words that best describe me: kind, hardworking, loyal

One thing I can’t live without: My friends

Something I like to do for fun: Play guitar

 

Name: Holly Clark

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Des Moines, IA

Education: Bachelors in International Studies

 

Host Site: Des Moines Civil & Human Rights Commission, Des Moines, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Hating my previous full-time job and doing a career change

Three words that best describe me: Introverted, Weird, Caring

One thing I can’t live without: Dogs!

Something I like to do for fun: Travel

 

Name: Jennifer Cogley

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Ozark, MO

Education: William Jewell College

 

Host Site: Imagine Grinnell, Grinnell, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: I have been a lifelong volunteer and was looking for more opportunities.

Three words that best describe me: Dedicated, organized, trustworthy 

One thing I can’t live without: Exercise

Something I like to do for fun: Read

 

Name: Kasperian Kittredge

Pronouns: he/him or they/them

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA

Education: Mathematics Major (BA) from Cornell College

 

Host Site: Willis Dady Homeless Services, Cedar Rapids, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: The prior year as an AmeriCorps VISTA!

Three words that best describe me: Goofy, awkward, philomath (lover of learning, particularly in respect to mathematics)

One thing I can’t live without: Water (less literally, Peter Hollens and Johnathan Young, two youtubers who cover songs via acapella or metal/rock remixes)

Something I like to do for fun: Origami

 

Name: Katie Pontious

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Ankeny, IA

Education: Bachelors

 

 

Host Site: Willis Dady Homeless Services, Cedar Rapids, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Getting to see the effect that my volunteer work has on the population we serve

Three words that best describe me: Bubbly, dependable, passionate

One thing I can’t live without: Macaroni and cheese

Something I like to do for fun: Paint

 

 Name: Lindsey Beck

 Pronouns: She/her

 Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA

 Education: Bachelor’s of Nutrition from Iowa State University

 

Host Site: Catherine McAuley Center, Cedar Rapids, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: My sister served as an AmeriCorps member in Maine and inspired me to do it as well.

Three words that best describe me: Funny, optimistic, easygoing

One thing I can’t live without: Ice Cream

Something I like to do for fun: Hiking

 

Name: Mackenzie Wolfe

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Edina, MN

Education: B.S. in Dietetics from UW-Madison

 

Host Site: National Kidney Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: I’ve always been interested in doing something like AmeriCorps and after spending two summers in Uganda I decided I wanted to give back to a local community. AmeriCorps VISTA will help me bridge the gap between my education in nutrition and passion for service.

Three words that best describe me: compassionate, friendly, motivated

One thing I can’t live without: My family 

Something I like to do for fun: cooking and baking

 

Name: Maria Jose Eyzaguirre

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Education: BA in English and Creative Writing

 

Host Site: Cedar Rapids Public Library, Cedar Rapids, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Working in a corporate environment where ultimately everything was about maximizing profits was really demoralizing. I love working for a site that actually believes in the mission they promote.

Three words that best describe me: Creative, nerdy, planner

One thing I can’t live without: My phone

Something I like to do for fun: Play Dungeons and Dragons

 

Name: Michael Kranz

Pronouns: he, him, his

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

Education: college graduate

 

Host Site: Normandale Community College, Bloomington, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: experience in college’s community engagement program

Three words that best describe me: kind, thoughtful, diligent

One thing I can’t live without: music

Something I like to do for fun: Exercise

 

Name: Mila Kaut

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Des Moines, IA

Education: BA in History, Music, and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at University of Iowa

 

Host Site: ICC & DMHR, Des Moines, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Majoring in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies has deepened my commitment to anti-poverty and equity work by making me more cognizant of how injustice manifests in my community and more confident in my individual and collective capacity to create positive change through research and community engagement. 

Three words that best describe me: introspective, resolute, and resilient 

One thing I can’t live without: I can’t live without oatmeal and peanut butter.

Something I like to do for fun: I love taking long walks while listening to podcasts.

 

Name: Noah Gaber

Pronouns: He/Him

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA

Education: B.A. Political Science

 

Host Site: Catherine McAuley Center, Cedar Rapids

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Hearing the difficulty and uncertainty many experience without having citizenship in their country of residence.

Three words that best describe me: Alert, allusive, alliterative 

One thing I can’t live without: Water

Something I like to do for fun: Read books about really bad people to feel better about myself

 

Name: Rio Farren

Pronouns: He, him, his

Hometown: Dollar Bay, MI

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

 

Host Site: City of Dubuque Human Rights Department, Dubuque, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Going to Haiti as part of a college course

Three words that best describe me: Quiet, reserved, dependable

One thing I can’t live without: Computers

Something I like to do for fun: Reading

 

Name: Sergio Nunez-Aviles

Pronouns: He His Him

Hometown: Brooklyn Park, MN

Education: A.A.

 

Host Site: North Hennepin Community College, Brooklyn Park, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Helping others find resources

Three words that best describe me: Attentive, advocative, interpersonal

One thing I can’t live without: People 

Something I like to do for fun: Write and read

 

Name: Simaya Ehime

Pronouns: She/her

Hometown: Saint Paul, MN

Education: University of Wisconsin- Stout

 

Host Site: St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Working with first-generation and multicultural students at Stout has inspired me to create resources as a VISTA to make my community educated and learn how to take care of themselves financially and nutritionally. 

Three words that best describe me: Soft-spoken, Dedicated, Resourceful 

One thing I can’t live without: Tea

Something I like to do for fun: Watching YouTube commentaries, taking long walks, talking on the phone, taking naps, and dancing!

 

Name: Zach Mecham

Pronouns: He/him

Hometown: Pleasantville, IA

Education: BS Education from Drake University

Host Site: The Harkin Institute, Des Moines, IA

An experience in my life that has shaped my decision to spend a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA: The opportunities I have had to serve organizations like my church, The Red Cross, and Disability Rights Iowa

Three words that best describe me: Creative, Passionate, Honest

One thing I can’t live without: Coffee

Something I like to do for fun: Make movies