Alumni Story: John Allison

John Allison is a 2012-2013 PULSE alumnus. In this interview he discusses his experiences in PULSE in regards to creating community, developing leadership skills, serving in Pittsburgh.

 

 

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you? Was there anything about it that surprised you?

The part about the PULSE program that I found attractive was the potential to integrate my communal with my work life. In terms of surprises: community living is always a surprise!

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of my PULSE experience was creating community (e.g. cooking) with fellow PULSErs.

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

PULSE helped develop my leadership and organizational skills, and opened me up to the world of nonprofits.

What kind of work do you do now?

I just finished up Seminary and am currently exploring the world of nonprofit education.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

My PULSE experience helped me hone a vision of how to serve one’s community.

How have you stayed connected with PULSE?

I’ve stayed in touch with some friends that I made in the program (as best I could while living out of state).

 

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Alumni Story: Sara Alvarez

Sara Alvarez is a 2012-2013 PULSE alumnus. In this interview she discusses her experiences in PULSE in regards to moving to a new city, living in community, serving in a nonprofit and growing as a leader.

 

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you? Was there anything about it that surprised you?

I loved the idea of moving to a new city and doing volunteer work while getting a built in community of friends and connections through the program.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

I fondly remember having a great nonprofit partnership and wonderful housemates and other PULSE fellows. I had opportunities to explore a lot of Pittsburgh and participate in a lot of fun events and activities.

What did the PULSE experience teach you about yourself?

PULSE helped me learn more independence and helped me grow up.

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

I always look back fondly at my time in PULSE. I really enjoyed getting to know my PULSE fellows. It felt like a great transition after college.

What kind of work do you do now?

Content Marketing Director at Everence.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

I wouldn’t say that PULSE prepared me directly for my job, but nonetheless it served as an enriching experience in my life.

How have you stayed connected with PULSE?

I read some of the material on social media and mailings.

 

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Alumni Story: Johnny Erevia

Johnny Erevia is a 2012-2013 PULSE alumnus. In this interview he discusses his experiences in PULSE in regards to living in the city, serving in a charter school, and cooking meals in his community.

 

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you? Was there anything about it that surprised you?

When I graduated from college, in rural northwest Ohio, I knew that I wanted an urban experience. PULSE was so attractive because it presented the opportunity to explore a vibrant city with a group of like-minded and adventurous people.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of my PULSE experience was exploring Pittsburgh with my fellow PULSErs. I truly got to experience a lot: outdoor concerts, banjo night, ultimate frisbee, athletic events, and the gatherings at our own Stanton house. Also, I relished in the weekly joy and challenge of cooking a meal we sat down to share as a family.

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

PULSE was my first extended urban experience. It was what I desired after moving to Pittsburgh from rural northwest Ohio and it didn’t disappoint. I still love being a young professional and living in the city. I like living only a few blocks from past and current PULSErs, friends I’ve had for a long time and friends I haven’t met yet.

What kind of work do you do now?

I am currently in my fourth year as a Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Officer. I work patrol in Zone 5 (the east end from Bloomfield to East Hills) and am a new Field Training Officer. I ride with probationary officers as a they work patrol for the first time and instruct/coach them along the way. I am also a member of the Special Response Team (SRT) with which I respond to mass gatherings and hazardous material incidents.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

My PULSE nonprofit partnership was at a charter school working as a truancy officer. In this position I routinely communicated with parents and guardians about their youth’s habitual absences. I developed truancy elimination plans and saw non-traffic citations for truancy brought before the local magistrate. This required me to interact with the population of the school and its families. I helped them find the pulse of what was causing dysfunction in their families or community and try to provide a helpful resource.

How have you stayed connected with PULSE?

I enjoy the PULSE emails and stories about past or current participants and their nonprofit partnership. I also routinely see PULSE alumni from my year and others.

 

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Alumni Story: Sarah (Spicuzza) Davelaar


img_3737“The program made me realize the importance of community. Since my PULSE year ended, I have moved to new places where I haven’t known anyone (a few times). Building a community and finding one where I am has done wonders for me.“ -Sarah Davelaar ’11-’12 Alumnus

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah (Spicuzza) Davelaar  is a 20011-12 PULSE alumnus. In this interview, we discuss taking a chance, developing community, being stretched and rediscovering your city.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?

I had a hard time deciding what to do and where to go upon graduation from college. PULSE reflected many ideals that I felt I needed, and so it became the answer. It was the perfect combination of gap year, community, and nonprofit experience.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of my PULSE experience was what I learned. PULSE itself provided excellent seminars that introduced me to topics or other activities that I wouldn’t have stumbled upon myself. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city on – one I grew up near but didn’t dive into yet – Wednesday afternoons with the other PULSErs. My nonprofit partnership, Serving Leaders (now Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation), stretched me personally and professionally. It was quite an experience to work with John Stahl-Wert, the founder of PULSE. And finally, my housemates were diverse and close. We constantly learned from each other in our community.

What kind of work do you do now?

I work as Content Strategist for The Signal Center for Health Innovation, under the University of Iowa Health Ventures. It’s a perfect combination of strategy and creativity for me. Plus, I get to tell the story of human impact. Our work deals mostly in digital health innovation and digital health (telehealth) which is a really exciting industry in a rural state.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

It’s so hard to nail down how PULSE prepared me for what I do now – there are many things! The program made me realize the importance of community. Since my PULSE year ended, I have moved to new places where I haven’t known anyone (a few times). Building a community and finding one where I am has done wonders for me. PULSE serves as a reminder to explore my own city. It’s easy to get comfortable or to frequent the same places. Now, I make an effort to try a new place, or a food that I might not like and take a chance!

How have you stayed connected to PULSE?

Staff always make sure to keep alumni informed, of course! I also follow PULSE on social media and reconnected with my fellow PULSErs (whether they were in my year or not) on a regular basis. The relationships that I’ve gained from this program are incredible.

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Alumni Story: Charity Grimes Bauman

12310663_621262453888_1720373392026325356_n“Now that I’ve recently relocated to Chicago and am building a new network here, I realize now even more how much PULSE helped me forge connections and get plugged in. I think because of that experience I’m much more confident now reaching out to make new connections in Chicago.“ -Charity Grimes ’09-’10 Alumnus

Charity Grimes  is a 2009-2010 PULSE alumnus. In this interview, we discuss finding community, developing connections in the nonprofit sector, edible gardens and getting to know Pittsburgh.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?

When I graduated from college I knew I wanted to move to a city, and I was interested in service programs. I was attracted to PULSE because I wanted to gain experience in my field while volunteering, and PULSE gave me the chance to look at nonprofit partnerships that would suit my individual interests well, not just plug me into a pre-determined nonprofit partnership. After having great experiences in college with group housing, I was really attracted to the communal living aspect of PULSE. I was excited to explore a city that was brand new to me while having an instant community of folks my age.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of PULSE was probably just getting to know Pittsburgh with my fellow PULSErs. We took advantage of tons of free events and volunteer opportunities. There’s so much going on in the city, and there was always someone interested in going with me to those events.

PULSE also encouraged me to develop my gifts in real ways, and try new things. I had my first experience with a nonprofit board as the PULSE board participant representative. I got to plan and expand the Stanton house vegetable garden. And, I took part in numerous professional development sessions through seminars.

What did the PULSE experience teach you about yourself?

From my nonprofit partnership, I learned that I need a balance of office work and hands on work to be my happiest! I spent a lot of time on a computer that year, and you learn from things you don’t like too. I’ve been lucky to find jobs since that allow me to get my hands dirty from time to time!

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

PULSE was a really important year for me in a lot of ways. It was my first year after college “in the real world,” but PULSE was there to ease me in and help me navigate it. PULSE helped me make connections in the city, learn about myself, and try new things. I didn’t necessarily expect to stay in Pittsburgh long term, but looking back after staying for seven years, I give PULSE credit for helping me find community in Pittsburgh and fall in love with the city.

As I continued to work in the nonprofit sector in Pittsburgh, I valued the connections I made during PULSE. I learned about lots of organizations through my housemates’ nonprofit partnerships, seminars, and volunteering. And, with so many alumni still working in the city and nonprofit sector, I have a farther reaching network in Pittsburgh than I imagine I would without PULSE. Now that I’ve recently relocated to Chicago and am building a new network here, I realize now even more how much PULSE helped me forge connections and get plugged in. I think because of that experience I’m much more confident now reaching out to make new connections in Chicago.

 

What kind of work do you do now?

I’m currently working as a Garden Educator with The Kitchen Community in Chicago. TKC installs raised bed vegetable Learning Gardens at schools all over the country, with a goal of increasing knowledge and likability of fresh fruits and vegetables, increasing students’ academic engagement, and building community. My role specifically involves working directly with 30 schools on the north and northwest side of Chicago (other educators work with the other regions of the city), to help them successfully grow and utilize their gardens. I offer support to teachers and garden teams around planning and building garden skills, work with students to plant and harvest their gardens, and help run garden workshops for teachers.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

My nonprofit partnership was at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where I worked in the adult education department with sustainable landscaping programs. After working in other nonprofits for a few years after PULSE, I ended up back at Phipps to coordinate Homegrown, an edible garden outreach program, which was a perfect fit for my passion around edible gardening and food justice. The connections I made and experience I built during my PULSE year at Phipps opened doors for me to come back later in a different role, which I was so grateful for.

PULSE also just generally prepared me to work in nonprofits. I learned a lot about how they operate, from managing volunteers to fundraising to board meetings. I learned about the importance of being intentional and focused on your mission to make the greatest impact, something that still centers how I think about my role and how I spend my professional time.

How have you stayed connected to PULSE?

While still living in Pittsburgh there were lots of ways I stayed connected- attending PULSEations and alumni events, being a mentor to current PULSErs, and in 2015-2016 I served on the PULSE Alumni Board. A highlight of my board experience was judging the PULSE Pitch– so fun to hear the awesome ideas and passion PULSErs had for improving their new communities!

Now from afar I’m staying connected via the newsletters, will continue to support PULSE financially, and hope to make it back for another PULSEations someday.

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