VISTA Spotlight: Madelynne Banderman

August 10, 2022

Madelynne is the Colonel’s Cupboard Education Specialist VISTA at Eastern Kentucky University. Her service site is located in Richmond, Kentucky. Madelynne has been serving there for a year and has just started her second year as a VISTA at Colonel’s Cupboard. To learn more about Madelynne’s experience as a VISTA, read more below!

What has been your favorite part about serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA?

My favorite part of serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA is being able to impact my local community. Serving others and working to build others up, mentally, physically, and beyond, were skills that I focused on prior to being a VISTA. Stepping into this VISTA role, allowed me to emphasize and hone in on these skills even more.

What was your favorite part about serving on your particular site?

My site is Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). I work as an Education Specialist for the Colonel’s Cupboard in EKU’s Student life and First Year Experience Office. The Colonel’s Cupboard serves student’s by providing free food, toiletries, clothing, and other resources.

I absolutely love this site! EKU holds a special place in my heart. It is where I completed my undergraduate degree and held a variety of volunteer positions. Being able to return to my alma mater and serve our students has been one of my favorite parts of my service. Having been a student here myself, I empathize with students and work on ways to help set them up for success for their collegiate work and beyond.

What is one project that you really enjoyed working on?

My project focused heavily on basic needs for our college student community. During 2021’s National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, I partnered with some colleagues for some campus events. Doing programming during this week especially, helps bring more awareness to basic needs that individuals may need assistance with. Knowing who to get in contact with and who is going to partner with you and support your endeavors is critical!

What skills have you learned through the VISTA program?

One of the biggest skills that I have focused on during my VISTA service is advocacy. Having a passion and drive for your work is important, but equally important is advocating for what you believe in and what you are working towards. During my work, I have encountered a diverse group of students each with a unique story. Along with the skill of advocacy, implementing the skills of patience, dedication, and kindness during every interaction helps build connection with the community you work with.

Tell us one of your proudest professional achievements.

The Colonel’s Cupboard is able to provide fresh and frozen foods for our students. However, based on our regulations, we cannot accept donations for these types of items but have to purchase them ourselves. I was able to apply for a Kroger Co. sponsorship during my service and received up to $2,000 dollars to go towards our purchasing of these items.

What are your plans for the future?

I am going into my second year as a master’s student. I will graduate with my M.A Ed. in School Counseling and will plan to work in a middle or high school!

What would you want to impart to future VISTA members?

Stop and listen. Everyone you meet has a unique story that makes them who they are. When we are able to stop and pause we get a better understanding of situations and people in general. In turn we end up being more compassionate and caring humans.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself!

I completed my undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy!