VISTA Spotlight: Lizzie Gillum
Meet Lizzie Gillum
Lizzie Gillum is the Community Engagement Coordinator for SOAR, also known as Shaping Our Appalachian Region. SOAR is located in Pikeville, Kentucky. Lizzie has been serving there for the past year, and in May 2022 she will become a VISTA leader for Kentucky Campus Compact. Read below for a look into Lizzie’s experience with the VISTA program so far!
What has been your favorite part about serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA?
My favorite part of serving as a VISTA has been working within the region where I grew up and helping to make it a better place for future generations. All my life, I’ve been told, you need to leave Eastern Kentucky if you want a job; there are no jobs here. However, working with SOAR has shown me there is a wealth of opportunity here if people reach out and take it. Being a part of that opportunity has been wonderful.
What was your favorite part about serving on your particular site?
My favorite part of serving with SOAR is all the connections you make and the people you meet. While serving at SOAR events, I’ve met some interesting people from all over Eastern Kentucky who are impacting our region.
What is one project that you really enjoyed working on?
One of the things I really enjoy doing at SOAR is planning our annual SOAR Summit. Before I came to SOAR, I had never been to a Summit. It was amazing to see all the accomplishments from people in our region. I was also able to listen to some awesome speakers.
What skills have you learned through the VISTA program?
I have learned a lot, not only about the region and its opportunities, but also about teamwork and networking. At SOAR, teamwork is a priority because we are such a small team. I have really learned what it means to rely on your teammates.
Tell us one of your proudest professional achievements.
I think my proudest professional achievement would have to be working on the SOAR Summit. I have mentioned it already, but curating such an important event that showcases our region is a massive undertaking. No one really knows all the work that goes into it, and I was proud to help put that together.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now, I plan to take the next step in my VISTA career and become a VISTA Leader. Later down the road, I would love to work with a nonprofit whose mission is to guide high schoolers to resources in our region and to keep the future of the region in the region.
What would you want to impart to future VISTA members?
VISTA is hard work if you’re doing it right. It’s not always easy and sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it, but I promise you, you will talk to one person who you’ve made an impact on and every stressful moment will have been worth it. VISTA is about having a passion for serving your community and if you have that passion, I believe you can achieve great things in the VISTA program.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself!
I was a dancer in college! I danced at Morehead State in their dance program.
KyCC appreciates your passionate dedication to your community in eastern Kentucky, Lizzie! Keep up the good work. We’re excited to bring you on board as a VISTA leader soon!