Gus Cantwell is currently serving as a RICC AmeriCorps*VISTA with First Star URI Academy, a collaboration between the University of Rhode Island and Adoption Rhode Island to expand college access for foster youth.
Host Site: First Star URI Academy
Where did you go to school? I attended the University of Rhode Island, where I earned a degree in Sociology.
What are your personal and professional interests? Professionally, I hope to obtain my Master’s in Social Work and work in a public high school. I then hope to work toward a policy position in order to improve our national public education system.
If you could have any super power, what would it be? I would love to be able to manipulate time! That way I could get a do-over any time I embarrass myself.
Story of Service
Last year I served in an AmeriCorps program called City Year in Boston, MA. Despite working with high school students for an entire year, I still felt as though I had a lot more to learn before embarking on my career path in education. For that reason, I sought out a different perspective within a similar demographic. Serving a second year in AmeriCorps has allowed me the opportunity to make another one-year commitment within education and continue to discover my passion while simultaneously working to make others’ lives better. I specifically chose a VISTA position because of its more “behind-the-scenes” approach: after working in a classroom last year I wanted to see what indirect work I could also do to support others.
The students I have worked with at First Star URI Academy have made this experience memorable for many reasons. I have found the program to be a great opportunity for me to learn about the inner workings of the foster care system, particularly in Rhode Island, through first-person accounts. It’s been so powerful to see and hear these students’ stories while working alongside them to help them succeed despite innumerable barriers. By talking with our partners at Adoption Rhode Island, I’ve been able to collaborate and determine solid action plans for individual students both inside and outside of school. By showing these students the opportunities and possibilities that lie before them, I hope to push these young adults well beyond what others expect of them.