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Public Allies Arizona’s 13th class will graduate in June, the completion of a 10-month AmeriCorps program that places emerging young leaders at local nonprofits for full-time paid apprenticeships. (Find out how you can get involved as an Ally or a Partner Organization.) In this post, which appeared in condensed form at PublicAllies.org, meet Class 13 Ally Channtal Polanco, who was placed at Opportunities for Youth.
What were you doing before you enrolled in Public Allies? What drew you to Public Allies?
Prior to Public Allies I was a first-generation college student pursuing my Associate of Arts (AA) degree at Phoenix College, working part-time with the City of Phoenix Head Start and being a mother to my wonderful child.
What drew me to Public Allies were many things, one being that I’ve had the opportunity to meet alums who spoke highly of Public Allies Arizona. I have known about Public Allies for quite some years but was, in a way, hesitant to make the commitment knowing I had a child to support and all the unknowns that may have come with Public Allies. After a while working in my community and serving, I yearned to continue to grow and be challenged. I had high hopes that joining Public Allies would renew my thinking, challenge and grow me in ways I haven’t been in the past. I was ready for leadership development and be equipped to make lasting change within my community.
What are you planning to do / hoping to do immediately after Public Allies? What is your long-term career aspiration(s)?
Immediately after Public Allies as a first-generation Chicana college student, I am hoping to continue my education at Phoenix College and graduate with an Associate of Arts by spring 2020. Shortly after I obtain my AA, I will attend Arizona State University. I am also currently working on creating a nonprofit program that will be provided to underserved communities around health and wellness. My long-term career aspirations aren’t defined just yet, but I know that my heart is to serve and provide support to uplift communities.
How is Public Allies contributing to your short and long-term career aspirations?
Public Allies is equipping me to become the person I am called to be. As I am constantly engaging with youth in my placement, I am learning skills that will benefit my future aspirations by being challenged and pushed outside my comfort zone. Naturally I am an introverted person who I self-describe as a wallflower, but in serving my community through my placement and learning how to make a difference, I am consistently growing. Public Allies is an experience that has given me the opportunity to grow my confidence in self and be a resilient, empathetic leader.
How is Public Allies advancing your own leadership development?
Public Allies has been advancing my leadership development by giving me the opportunities for trainings in which I’ve learned the benefits of time management, creating healthy boundaries, harnessing my voice as a community member and serving. I have been able to get a greater sense of myself and how I can be an asset to building and serving communities.
What is your favorite thing about your Public Allies experience? What's been the biggest challenge?
There truly is not just one favorite experiences about Public Allies, but one of many is being able to have a mentor like my program manager. I knew, in order to succeed in what I wanted, I would need a great mentor. I’m grateful for the endless opportunities that have come with being in Public Allies. One of the biggest challenges would just be knowing that soon my term of service would be over and being unsure of what’s to come next. However, that is the beauty in life, I think, to not always be in the know but rather just live in the now and have faith that my journey will continue to be great with countless opportunities that may come as a Public Ally alum.
What would you tell others that are just learning about Public Allies and/or someone who might be thinking about applying to be a Public Ally?
To those interested in Public Allies, as someone who was uncertain of what was next in their life journey, I would say Public Allies has given me what feels as a fresh start in life – a new purpose and meaning. To the future Public Ally, I believe in you, you are worthy, you are more than enough and worthy of great things in life. Be ready and eager to grow, develop a great sense of self and be exposed to new opportunities. I’d also leave you with this:
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa
Channtal Polanco is part of Public Allies' Class 13. She was placed at Opportunities for Youth. Public Allies Arizona is a 10-month apprenticeship program designed to develop the next generation of civic leaders.