Isabella Gaetjens-Oleson – White Mountains Regional School District
Isabella will be serving in the high school that she recently graduated from. This will be an opportunity to help the school build their social media and outside interactions with the surrounding community. Isabella is extremely excited and thankful for the opportunity to give back to the people, school, and community that shaped her into who she is today, and hopes to continue helping others after her year of service.
Kimberly Cartier – Great Bay Community College
When she began her work as a VISTA in January of 2019, Kimberly was able to draw on her 15 years of experience in adult and postsecondary education/college transition to contribute to the development of methods to increase enrollment, persistence, and retention among low-income college students as a member of the team at the Center for Academic Planning and Support (CAPS) at Great Bay Community College (GBCC). Her contributions have led to more effective marketing of work-study positions to income-eligible students and increased training for college support staff in addressing the needs of students in poverty. Kimberly has also developed a listing of community resources for Great Bay’s website, helped to expand and strengthen collaboration between the college and community agencies to support low-income college students and launched Project GRAD (Goals, Results, Aspirations, and Distinction), an innovative peer mentor program that offers guidance and practical support as well as transfer and career planning to Pell-eligible students.
Kimberly supported Great Bay’s rapid transition to distance learning during the 2020 spring break by providing remote support to Project GRAD volunteers and participants while collaborating remotely with colleagues within the college and community. She also researched and widely disseminated information about COVID-related resources, remote services, and financial assistance that could benefit GBCC students. Her work with CAPS to adapt and strengthen supports for low-income students in an on-line setting will continue until campus-based programming resumes.
Sydney Olson – Keene State College
Sydney is serving at Keene State College in the Student Involvement Offices. She is currently enrolled in grad school for her Masters in Higher Education Administration, after recently graduating from Keene State College this past May! Sydney lives two minutes from downtown Keene and loves walking the area with one of her roommates, a sweet, but crazy, puppy named Bug! She enjoys spending her time being outdoors and walking through the woods, going to antique stores, and trying to play her banjo (trying is the key word here)!
Kelly Burton – Claremont School District
My experience as the GEAR-UP VISTA at Stevens High School in Claremont is one that I will remember for the rest of my life. During my service year I was faced with the Global issue of the COVID-19 Pandemic. It was a time that was unrehearsed, didn’t come with a users manual. How to reach out to students virtually was an unknown. There was little warning other than a few hours to pack up what I needed to serve remotely and a crash course in Google Classroom and Zoom.
It was an intense time to connect with the GEAR-UP students at Steven’s and still continue working through planned activities and resources. Colleges were busy sending their students home while I was busy making sure the high school graduates of the future were able to navigate college readiness skills, take college and career tours as if we were riding along the activities sitting at a desk in school. I was able to do this all and still maintain a sense of calm while trying not to panic as a VISTA. I went from walking the halls and interacting with students to hoping that I have been able to capture their attention online.
This experience working with the projects virtually, getting virtual high fives, and sending GEAR-UP students on a great virtual spring break across the country with college tours at a touch of a button on the mouse. The school and the students made history this year and the students got through the year with the activities that I was able to re-design on a moment’s notice. It made my site discover new ways of sending out GEAR-UP projects – using Google Classroom and other nifty technology.
It was a learning experience for everyone involved. This is a year that I will miss. Being an AmeriCorps VISTA during this period in history is something I survived because I was able to help students navigate the unknown.
Tiffiney Poirier – White Mountains Community College
Tiffiney is a recent graduate of White Mountains Community College with her Associates in Teacher Education/Early Childhood Education along with a Special Education Certificate. She really enjoys traveling and volunteering. For as long as Tiffiney can remember her dream has been to join the Peace Corps. Tiffiney finds herself, at the age of 20, building up her resume and experience for when she finally can send in that application. She decided to go to college for education because she has always had a passion for teaching. As she go on to pursue her Bachelors in Education she thought of programs that would help her obtain her goal, the Peace Corps. That is how she ended up here as the AmeriCorps VISTA at WMCC. Along with being passionate about teaching she also loves to travel. She recently spent a month in Europe backpacking and doing tours of wherever she wanted to go. Tiffiney is certainly a free spirit and lives by that through travels travels and WWOOFing. WWOOFing is when you go to a farm anywhere in the world and work on it in exchange for room and board. She has done this for a month in Canada and 2 weeks in the Netherlands so far.
While being a VISTA this year she really hopes to accomplish a lot for her site and community but also for herself. She thinks this will be one of the most important years of personal growth. Transitioning from a student that sat in the back of the class and never raised their hand and who would avoid any means of eye contact from a professor to building a foundation for her career and becoming a self-advocate.
Cleora Ohar – Nashua Community College
Cleora is currently serving at Nashua Community College in both the Student Activities Office and the Department of Multicultural Engagement. She supports programs, projects, and other initiatives under both departments to help build capacity and sustainability (i.e. orientation, international café, etc.). For the 2018-2019 academic year, she completed her first term with AmeriCorps through the Goodwill Multilingual Leadership Corps Program. She worked closely with ELL students K-12 through the NH Department of Education in the Title III Office and the Migrant Education Program to support their language and academic needs. Cleora received her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and double minored in Spanish and Music from Salve Regina University. Her love of other cultures stems in part from her study abroad adventures in Seville, Spain (one semester through the “Spanish Studies Abroad” Program), and short term studies in England and Austria. She wants to continue to improve her Spanish skills so she can eventually work with a wider network of students in higher education. Cleora plans on pursuing a master’s degree in higher education (student affairs) in the near future. Some activities she truly delights in doing are playing piano and in ensembles with her violin, hiking, and cooking.
Kelly Dellovo – Keene State College
Kelly continues to be interested in emergency medicine and has plans to work as an EMT and ski patrol after her year of service. She served with the Aspire tutoring department and spent a significant portion of time developing online training videos/modules for tutors that are focused on professional development and tutor training. Kelly has also been working on the sustainability of her VISTA service year for the department to have many of the new resources ready to use after Kelly ends service. There has been an added focus on this aspect of her service year as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way in the Aspire program operates. In addition to her love for academics and healthcare, several unrelated activities she enjoys doing include: going to the gym, spending time with her friends, family, hiking, yoga, mountain biking, writing, drawing, and baking.
Shane Chandler – NHTI, Concord’s Community College
Shane is the AmeriCorps *VISTA at NHTI. He was born and raised in the city lights of Boston, Massachusetts. He moved up to Manchester, New Hampshire about a month ago to come serve the Granite State. Shane attained his Associates degree in Human Services from NHTI and is now finishing up his Bachelors at the Southern New Hampshire University. He has a passion for serving others and working with people. In his free time, you can probably catch him sipping down a cold brew from Dunkin’, catching up on a new show, or exploring the great outdoors of NH.