Fellow Story: Savanna Thompson

PULSE has inspired me to expand my horizons for what opportunities are out there.” -Savanna Thompson

Savanna Thompson grew up in State College, Pennsylvania and attended Geneva College where she earned a degree in Public Relations, with a minor in Sociology. At Geneva, she was a student tutor, President of PRSSA, Secretary of Genevans Choir, a mentor for the Freshmen Experience, an Sports Editor for the Cabinet Newspaper, and a Student Leader of the Student Activities Team. Prior to joining PULSE, she served as intern with Geneva’s Sport Information Department and the Greater Wichita YMCA. In her free time, she enjoys music, gardening, and crafting.  She is a part of the Northside cohort, and is serving at The Buhl Foundation.

Meera Rajput: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Savanna Thompson: The most valuable part of the experience so far is the ability to make connections both with fellows and Pittsburgh in general especially in the non-profit sector.

Meera: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Savanna: PULSE has inspired me to expand my horizons for what opportunities are out there. Before PULSE, I didn’t have any idea how many directions I could go with my future and now I have opportunities and a strong network to help me get there.

Meera: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Savanna: I am learning how to express my needs both personally in the house as well as what my needs are from my supervisor and service experience.

Meera: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Savanna: I really enjoy learning about how an organization runs from the top level atmosphere and what best practices are in action on an organizational level.

Meera: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Savanna: I enjoy having people to come home to! I like how quickly I became comfortable with my roommates for me to be able to share my ups and downs of the day with.

Meera: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Savanna: My days normally consist of strategic planning for the communication plan for next year as well as working with coworkers on specific and individual projects.

Meera: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Savanna: I love that Pittsburgh can feel like a small town even though it is a big city.

Meera: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Savanna: I have enjoyed exploring different coffee shops and getting to know the different personalities that come through all these different shops throughout the city.

Meera: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Savanna: I have loved all the chili we’ve made!

Meera: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Savanna: The best part of the PULSE experience is getting to spend time in the house I live in and getting to know the people in the house.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Meera Rajput.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Fellow Story: Ryan Prescott

Everybody brings something else to the table that you did not know of. It is always interesting listening to others and sharing your experience.” -Ryan Prescott

Ryan Prescott grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and attended Mercyhurst University where he earned a degree in Criminal Justice, with a concentration in Law Enforcement, while also earning a minor in Criminology. At Mercyhurst, he devoted much of his time to the Boys and Girls Club and Relay for Life. Ryan interned with both the Northeast Police Department and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. He also presented research on the public perception of police at the American Criminal Justice Sciences conference. In his free time, Ryan enjoys camping, fishing, hanging out with friends, playing video games, and traveling.  He is a part of the South Hilltop cohort, and is serving at Venture Outdoors.

Jack Shomberg: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Ryan Prescott: Honestly, I think the networking opportunities and outreach we have available are the most valuable. The amount of support surrounding my every decision is very comforting. The Program Coordinator’s are constantly trying to nudge you in the right direction or are nudging you to the right people.

Jack: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Ryan: PULSE has me thinking with a community-oriented approach. Also, serving as a community liaison for Venture Outdoors helps me think about the bigger picture.

Jack: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Ryan: I am learning that I can be more of an extrovert when needed and not being shy. Almost like adventuring into new territory.

Jack: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Ryan: I really enjoy outreach and working with kids. I was somewhat new to working with kids, so I did not know how well I would like it. I now look forward to the after school programs every day. Seeing the kids get all excited when you show up to go outside and do activities is worthwhile. It really makes going into service every day amazing!

Jack: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Ryan: I have enjoyed living in a larger house with more roommates. There is always someone home at any given time, which is nice if you had a stressful day and need to vent.

Jack: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Ryan: Typically, I start off with either a meeting with my supervisor or a meeting somewhere in Pittsburgh. I travel a lot with Venture Outdoors. After that, I am usually in the office for only a few hours and then I am off to lead my after-school activities for youth in the South Hilltop area. I mostly serve with Brashear Association, A Giving Heart, and Phillips.

Jack: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Ryan: I was really surprised at how crazy some of these drivers are here. I didn’t know the Pittsburgh left was a thing. Also, you have to be more of an aggressive driver because people don’t just let you in, you have to force your way in.

Jack: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Ryan: The most interesting/fun adventure I have had this far is probably with one of my after-school programs. We do an activity called bike rodeo at Venture Outdoors. It is basically just an obstacle course for youth on bikes. This was the most fun because I taught a little girl named Sienna how to ride a bike. Seeing the reaction on her face after she did it all by herself honestly made my week.

Jack: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Ryan: Anything breakfast or anything on the grill.

Jack: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Ryan: The best part of my PULSE experience so far is meeting the other PULSE Fellows. Everybody brings something else to the table that you did not know of. It is always interesting listening to others and sharing your experience.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Jack Shomberg.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Fellow Story: Meera Rajput

I think the most valuable part of the PULSE experience for me is seeing Pittsburgh in a new perspective.” -Meera Rajput

Meera Rajput, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, grew up in a small suburb called Huntington Valley just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received a B.S. in Psychology with a Minor in Economics. At her time at the University of Pittsburgh, she was involved in many activities including Asha for Education, where she helped host events that highlight the educational issues and poverty that underprivileged children in India face. She also was involved in Psi Chi, an Honors Psychology Society, and Behavioral Economics Club, which looked at the intersection of psychology and economics in the consumer market. Outside of Pitt, she served as an undergraduate intern at the Women’s Law Project, a public interest legal center devoted to protecting and advancing the rights of women. Meera’s hobbies include reading novels, writing short stories, watching movies, running, and eventually, learning to play the guitar.  She is a part of the Northside cohort, and is serving at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.

Abbey Schulz: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Meera Rajput: I think the most valuable part of the PULSE experience for me is seeing Pittsburgh in a new perspective. Even though I have lived here for four years, this experience has exposed me to the greater community of Pittsburgh  and I have been better able to engage with community members.

Abbey: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Meera: PULSE has encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone.  At times, I have difficulty introducing myself and talking to new people,  but PULSE has given me the ability to network, ask questions, and engage with new people.

Abbey: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Meera: I consider myself to be a good listener, , but this experience has taught me how to listen more constructively and without inserting my own beliefs or solutions to what people have to say. It is especially critical in my nonprofit to leave any previous notions at the door and not to judge others.

Abbey: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Meera: I enjoy my relationship with my supervisor and the interns in our office. I am learning a lot about not only the law, but about how non-profits operate. The best thing about my nonprofit is being able to talk to the interns and my supervisor about their experiences in order to understand what I want to pursue further in my career.

Abbey: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Meera: I have enjoyed living in my house because I am able to be myself around my roommates. We are able to talk through conflicts because we are open and honest with each other.

Abbey: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Meera: I went to Randyland with some other fellows and was able to meet the man who started it all! Speaking with Randy and hearing his own challenging experiences and how he created a space for people to come and enjoy his art was really inspiring.

Abbey: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Meera: Zucchini boats!

Abbey: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Meera: Living out part of PULSE’s motto: growing.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Abbey Schulz.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Fellow Story: Maya Fews

I’m learning what my interests and passions are, and I’m exploring those deeper.” -Maya Fews

Maya Fews comes to Pittsburgh by way of Lansing, Michgan. Maya received her degree in Law and Public Policy and a certificate in Applied Research and Inquiry from Indiana University – Bloomington. Prior to joining PULSE, she served as an intern with Mayor Virgil Bernero. Additionally, Maya was an Undergraduate Ambassador for Students for Equity in Public Affairs and was Vice Chair and External Affairs of the Model United Nations Conference. In her free time, Maya enjoys making crafts, running, listening to podcasts and reading.  She is a part of the Northside cohort, and is serving at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Victor Huerta: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Maya Fews: I would say connecting with fellow PULSErs and building a community with them, relying on them, and building relationships with them.

Victor: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Maya: PULSE has taught me patience with living people who are different from you, or a lot of people at one time, and people with different opinions.

Victor: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Maya: In general, I’m learning what my interests and passions are, and I’m exploring those deeper. I’m also being more intentional about how I use my time.

Victor: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Maya: I’m enjoying watching people within the URA transform the city of Pittsburgh, make amends with the city, and making the future livable for anyone.

Victor: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Maya: Surprisingly, I’ve liked bonding over dinner and cooking together.

Victor: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Maya: I respond to my emails, organize and plan meetings, and work on the strategic plan for the next three years, as well as upcoming trainings for staff.

Victor: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Maya: My first day at my nonprofit, I got tickets to a Pirates game and seeing the skyline from PNC park was breathtaking. Truly amazing 10/10, would recommend.

Victor: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Maya: Getting outside of your comfort zone in a new city.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Victor Huerta.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Fellow Story: Louise McManus

PULSE has made me want to push myself professionally, try new things in the city, and grow as a young adult.” -Louise McManus

Louise McManus, a native of Bedford Hills, New York, completed her undergraduate degree at John Carroll University with a major in Sociology and a concentration in Aging Studies. During her time in school, she helped fundraise for the Fatima Food Drive and served as a tutor with Griot Village Intergenerational After School Tutoring. Additionally, Louis served as Senior Citizen Resources intern, a “Friendly Visits” volunteer and a First Light HomeCare Companion, where she aided and engaged with elderly patients. She also served as an adult literacy tutor with the Cleveland Sight Center. In her free time, Louise enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.  She is a part of the Northside cohort, and is serving at First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh.

Annamae Bolen: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Louise McManus: Living in a house with four other girls has been very empowering as women; in terms of food, financials, and support.

Annamae: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Louise: I definitely want to challenge myself more. PULSE has made me want to push myself professionally, try new things in the city, and grow as a young adult.

Annamae: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Louise: It’s teaching me how to work with a population that I have never worked with before. I serve with a lot of different people on a day to day basis, and I am learning how to use my skills to the best of my ability.

Annamae: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Louise: I don’t really have a typical day! As the Volunteer Coordinator, I answer a lot of emails, work a lot with big groups of people, and build relationships with the volunteers and the homeless. Also, every Tuesday we host a family style meal for the homeless.

Annamae: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Louise: This is cheesy, but I love how deep the roots run in Pittsburgh. A lot of my family is from the city, so I do have that support, but I like that I have been able to establish myself as an individual. The people here are just nice!

Annamae: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Louise: One of my housemates got free tickets to a Penguins game, so being able to go without worrying about expenses was nice!

Annamae: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Louise: We love eating healthy, so we usually have lots of veggies and chicken. Finding different ways to cook these things on a budget has been a cool learning experience.

Annamae: Anything else about Pittsburgh?

Louise: If you have some free time, check out Badamo’s pizza on the North Side!

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Annamae Bolen.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

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