Name: Rodney Derogene
Host Site: Feinstein Institute for Public Service
What are your personal and professional interests?
I want to be a better, more disciplined individual. I want to increase capacity within my mental, physical, spiritual and social state. I would like to continue to be exposed to new opportunities and meet new people.
Professionally, I have broken it down to some very important things: Activeness, youth, traveling. I would say I like a little risk within the work frame I do that requires or gives me the opportunity to challenge myself and/or others. Long-term I still have not figured out careers, but if it includes those, then I am all set.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Control of the elements. I can make it rain in areas of droughts and make it sunny.
Tell us your Story of Service: I chose to serve for AmeriCorps because I saw it as an opportunity to support a cause, working with the community. There are a lot of people, some better off than others, and some struggling to get by. Given all the things I need to be mindful of in life, I may easily tend to neglect some of these things.
I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island my whole life. Growing up in an Haitian-American family, education and getting a job were top priorities. I never thought about sitting back to understand what my passions were. To me, I couldn’t just accept that obligation of just going to school, getting a degree and then landing a job. It was tough. I rejected the norm of education and never cared much for it in my teenage years. It was a feeling that came from not having readily available support systems that understood my sentiment; my parents were always working. I did not tell people my problems much, I just dealt with them myself. I wanted to be exposed to new opportunities, and one of those opportunities was Young Voices, which taught me important life skills.
When prompted to explain Young Voices to someone, I say that Young Voices is a non-profit organization that helps youth develop skills in public speaking, critical thinking, policy analysis, organization, and leadership. There’s much more development that comes with the commitment to the organization, but those are the key skills that help provide youth the ability to be very successful in their futures. I was able to communicate effectively with my peers, relate to different demographics and create lasting relationships that were sustainable and ongoing.
Overall, my experiences in life taught me that I am capable of figuring out situations when I put my mind to it. Given the difficulties I faced in being part of the world of academia, I learned that I should never give up and take action for what I believe in because my education can support that. As an AmeriCorps VISTA doing Civic Engagement, College Access/Persistence, now serving Young Voices, I see with Young Voices’ youth I currently work with the extent of how educating can have an impact. Youth are instilled with the confidence to apply to their dream colleges, and have received acceptance letters! To me, that is one of the most rewarding experiences I receive from being a service member. I feel that I am impacting poverty by building an accessible support system for youth in low-income communities who do not have readily available support systems.