Name: Jared Lafond
Host Site: Rhode Island School of Design
Where did you go to school? Rhode Island School of Design
What are your personal and professional interests? My interests include music and the visual arts and I pursue these practices somewhere between a personal and professional level. I am interested in experiential and academic investigations of consciousness and am trained in and practice Transcendental Meditation. Professionally, I see my goal as promoting harmony.
If you could have any super power, what would it be? Fire breathing + Wish granting abilities
Tell us your Story of Service (300 – 500 words)
My VISTA service is within the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) at RISD. This position is focused on improving student leadership opportunities and developing structures for partnerships between RISD and the surrounding landscape of non-profits. Moving forward, my position will also involve creating relationships with RISD’s internal structures to open doors for service learning and expanded collaboration. As a Rhode Island native and alum of RISD, I see these efforts as important towards the growth and integration of the communities that I continue to grow within.
To improve student leadership opportunities, I have worked on the implementation of a workshop series and certificate program called RISD LEADS. This program runs weekly and features a variety of facilitators focused on building leadership knowledge and skills for RISD students. My role has been to find and recruit speakers, promote and record sessions, and improve the process of enrolling students in the certificate aspect of the program.
The other main aspect of my service has been building improved Community Partnerships. Because RISD’s formalized Community Partnership Program is relatively new in development, I have been able to provide crucial attention to the progress of these efforts. My role has included coming to a cohesive impression of the relationships that stand and building structures for the partnerships to move towards the relationships they envision. This has meant acting as an investigator and liaison, building an electronic system of communications and coordination, and organizing an event to celebrate and publicize the formalization of the partnerships.
Overall, the VISTA experience is one of constant learning and growth. This applies in a personal capacity level, as well as on a professional development level. The responsibilities of this position have included open-ended engagement into relationships and programs that have never been done before. This requires self-assurance and the ability to self-assess that has certainly been an area of personal growth. One of the most important aspects of this position for me is the network that is generated through VISTA, RISD, and Partner organizations. I see these relationships as a professional counterpart to the personal growth that I am experiencing.