VISTA Volunteers Hope To Engage, Increase College Access In IA Communities

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Iowa College Aid believes that college is possible for all Iowa students. College Changes Everything is more than just a motto for the organization, but also one of Iowa College Aid’s outreach initiatives in the state, working to help foster a college-going culture not only in schools but throughout Iowa communities.

Working with community colleges in a number of Iowa communities, College Changes Everything’s rely heavily on the assistance of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers working to help build the relationships with community groups in each of the College Changes Everything areas.

During AmeriCorps Week 2016, we’re highlighting the VISTA volunteers working with Iowa College Aid throughout the state. Matt Timmerberg recently graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL, with a degree in History and Business. But motivated by a lifelong enjoyment of community service, Timmerburg is working to help build college access as a College Access Specialist at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, IA. He shares his experiences:

Matt Picture

I’ve served communities in a variety of ways over my life, including homeless shelters, food pantries, Boys and Girls clubs, Habitat for Humanity and other projects and events. When I was younger I usually participated in an activity with whatever group or club I was a part of at the time. However, as I got older it began to become something that was increasingly important to me and I began to seek out more opportunities on my own.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about education and education-related issues, but only recently have I really realized a way to serve that passion. Throughout my time at Knox College, I began to understand some of the issues facing people that do not have as easy access to college and post-secondary education as others. While some of these issues are significant and difficult to overcome, it is important to try to find solutions.

I was able to attend and complete college with relative ease, so I feel an obligation to help others who are in much more difficult circumstances get the same opportunity. I’ve grown up with the idea that if you can work hard you can do anything, and while that holds true for most things, there are still some cases where that may not be a reality. I want to help work to make that a reality for everyone and everything. If someone is willing to put in the work they deserve the chance to better themselves however they may choose to do so in relation to post-secondary education.

Throughout my VISTA year I hope to make some meaningful change in Southeastern Iowa and set things in place so that more change can take place in the future. I’m hoping to gain some more experience in public service in a more professional setting and gain a better understanding of how national and state programs work in relation to education. I also hope to become engaged as a member of the community here, at both Southeastern and the greater Burlington area. I am really excited to see what I can do and hopefully make a meaningful impact throughout my year of VISTA service.

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