What I’ve Learned in Six Months by Gabe Alderson

April 21, 2020

When I joined the Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps program, I was looking to not only make a change in the world, but a change in myself and how I viewed my role in the world. I had been working for years in the private sector chasing money and reputation, which is what I had originally wanted for most of my young life, but it was leaving me with a lingering sense of emptiness that couldn’t be satisfied with money or career aspirations.

When I joined AmeriCorps, it was nearly instantaneously that life changed, and the lingering sense of emptiness began to fade. In its place, a new sense of satisfaction and fulfillment began to develop. Of course, not everything can be perfect, and early into my service term I started to identify issues and barriers that slowed our mission, and my initial views and perspectives began to shift. Student post-secondary success wasn’t solely determined by situations at school, but the situations at home and in the community at large. Students schooled at home missed opportunities afforded to traditional students, and lower-income and rural students often didn’t have technical resources necessary for modern college and career planning methods.

Recognizing that so many issues we faced were rooted in a disconnection between community, business, schools, and government, I realized that some of our mission focus needed to be shifted in that direction. So I started the search for some kind of liaison role that could help bring all members of the community together in a non-school setting for researching colleges and careers, but it needed to be free and most likely government-funded. So I gave a call to the Helena Public Library, and asked if they’d be interested in this project. They voiced interest, and now the Library is in a third-party supporting role for the Career Lab’s mission of preparing Montana citizens for college and careers. This major development occurred only because I had a desire to have positive impact, and AmeriCorps and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry gave me the opportunity to do so.

In six months I’ve improved my physical and mental health, helped make crucial developments to my host site mission, hosted projects involving state leadership, and come to realize that the right individual in the right place can make an impact.